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Article

S. J. Dodd and Andrea Savage

Evidence-informed practice (EIP) is a model that incorporates best available research evidence; client’s needs, values, and preferences; practitioner wisdom; and theory into the clinical decision-making process filtered through the lens of client, agency, and community culture. The purpose of this article is to define and describe the evidence-informed practice model within social work and to explore the evolution of evidence-informed practice over time. The article distinguishes evidence-informed practice from the more commonly known (and perhaps more popular) evidence-based practice. And, having outlined the essential components of evidence-informed practice, describes the barriers to its effective implementation. Critical contextual factors related to the implementation of evidence-informed practice at the individual level, as well as within social work organizations, are also addressed. Finally, implications both for social work practice and education are explored.

Article

David E. Biegel and Susan Yoon

Research education at the bachelor’s and master’s levels has attempted to address concerns related to students’ purported lack of interest in research courses and graduates’ failure to conduct research as practitioners. Research education at the doctoral level has benefitted from a significant increase in the number of faculty members with federally funded research grants, although the quality of doctoral research training across programs is uneven. A continuum of specific objectives for research curricula at the baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral levels is needed to lead to clearer specifications of research knowledge and skills that should be taught in all schools of social work.

Article

Jeffrey M. Jenson and Matthew O. Howard

Evidence-based practice (EBP) is an educational and practice paradigm that includes a series of predetermined steps aimed at helping practitioners and agency administrators identify, select, and implement efficacious interventions for clients. This entry identifies definitions of EBP and traces the evolution of EBP from its origins in the medical profession to its current application in social work. Essential steps in the process of EBP and challenges associated with applying EBP to social work practice, education, and research are noted.

Article

Yekutiel Sabah and Patricia Cook-Craig

The professional commitment of practitioners in a changing society requires them to continuously acquire new professional knowledge. Since robust and relevant knowledge is often in short supply, practitioners must learn to acquire the knowledge they need. Similarly, social agencies must become institutions that support the development of practice innovations by engaging in organizational learning. This implies that they both adopt an organizational culture and create structural arrangements conducive to learning. Given this imperative, the following entry reviews the philosophical, conceptual, and methodological underpinnings of organizational learning as a strategy for guiding practitioners and organizations in a systematic endeavor to invent and manage knowledge. A methodology for the application of organizational learning in social services is presented.

Article

Tony Tripodi and Marina Lalayants

This entry reviews the state of social work research from the appearance of the social work research overview in the previous encyclopedia to the early 2010s. Social work research is defined, and its purposes, contents, training, location, and auspices are briefly discussed. Continuing issues and developments, as well as the emerging developments of evidence-based practice, practice-based research, cultural competence, and international social work research, are featured.

Article

James W. Drisko

This entry examines the common factors approach in social work and in related professions. The term “common factors” refers to a set of features that are shared across different specific models of psychotherapy and social services, but may not always be conceptualized as being curative influences. The common factors approach broadens the conceptual base of potentially curative variables for practice and research. The history of common factors, the research designs and statistical methods that have led to the approach’s elaboration, the approach’s empirical base, and its fit with social work’s person-in-environment perspective are each explored. The intersection of the common factors approach with the evidence-based practice movement is examined. The role of common factors in the psychotherapy integration movement is also discussed. The implications of the common factors approach for research, policy, and practice in social work are identified.

Article

Implementation research seeks to inform how to deliver evidence-based interventions, programs, and policies in real-world settings so their benefits can be realized and sustained. The ultimate aim of implementation research is building a base of evidence about the most effective processes and strategies for improving service delivery. Implementation research builds upon effectiveness research and then seeks to discover how to use specific implementation strategies and move those interventions into specific settings, extending their availability, reach, and benefits to clients and communities. This entry provides an overview of implementation research as a component of research translation and defines key terms, including implementation outcomes and implementation strategies, as well as an overview of guiding theories and models and methodological issues including variable measurement, research design, and stakeholder engagement.

Article

This chapter summarizes literature and research related to advances in direct practice work with adolescents. Social workers are on the forefront of developing and utilizing a variety of evidence-based practices to address complex client and community needs.

Article

Catherine G. Greeno

Mental illnesses are very common; more than one-quarter of people will develop a mental illness during their lifetime. Mental illnesses are associated with substantial disability in work, relationships, and physical health, and have been clearly established as one of the leading causes of disability in the developing, as well as the industrialized world. Mental disorders are common in every service sector important to social workers, and affect outcomes in every service sector. Mental disorders are strongly associated with poverty worldwide, and are common and often unrecognized in the general health sector, child welfare, and criminal justice settings, among others. Basic information about mental health is thus important to all social workers. Information about classification systems and major categories of mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, psychotic disorders, and substance abuse disorders, is presented. The service system for mental disorders is badly underdeveloped, and most people who need treatment do not receive it. There is an increasing body of evidence demonstrating effective treatments, and policy is moving toward requiring that treatments offered be evidence based. This is a period of a great explosion of knowledge about mental health, and we can expect considerable advances in the coming years.

Article

Steven L. McMurtry, Susan J. Rose, and Lisa K. Berger

Accurate measurement is essential for effective social work practice, but doing it well can be difficult. One solution is to use rapid assessment instruments (RAIs), which are brief scales that typically require less than 15 minutes to complete. Some are administered by practitioners, but most are self-administered on paper or electronically. RAIs are available for screening, initial assessment, monitoring of service progress, and outcome evaluation. Some require author permission, others are sold commercially, and many more are free and in the public domain. Selection of an RAI should be based first on its psychometric strength, including content, concurrent, and known-groups validity, as well as on types of reliability such as internal consistency, but practical criteria such as readability are also important. And when used in practice settings, RAIs should be part of a well-rounded measurement plan that also includes behavioral observations, client logs, unobtrusive measures, and other approaches.

Article

Edward J. Mullen, Jennifer L. Bellamy, and Sarah E. Bledsoe

This entry describes best practices as these are used in social work. The term best practices originated in the organizational management literature in the context of performance measurement and quality improvement where best practices are defined as the preferred technique or approach for achieving a valued outcome. Identification of best practices requires measurement, benchmarking, and identification of processes that result in better outcomes. The identification of best practices requires that organizations put in place quality data collection systems, quality improvement processes, and methods for analyzing and benchmarking pooled provider data. Through this process, organizational learning and organizational performance can be improved.

Article

Maria Roberts-DeGennaro

A generic set of case management functions are performed in most practice settings. To improve outcomes within a complex service delivery system, case managers need to collaboratively work with clients and care providers. By incorporating the paradigm of evidence-based practice, case managers can improve decision making through integrating their practice expertise with the best available evidence, and by considering the characteristics, circumstances, values, preferences, and expectations of clients, as well as their involvement in the decision making.

Article

The concept of evidence-based practice (EBP) was introduced in social work by Mary Richmond, who had the revolutionary notion of adopting a more direct practice with clients. The origins of EBP in the United States are traced, as well as its emergence in the Arab world. Discussed are various Arab faculties and departments of social work that include EBP among their academic courses. Social work settings that apply EBP in professional interventions with clients are examined. Barriers and challenges to the processes of both teaching and learning EBP in Arab society are highlighted. The future outlook for EBP in Arab schools of social work is explored.

Article

Susan A. Green and Doyle K. Pruitt

Trauma-focused cognitive–behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) is a manualized treatment for children 3–17 years old who have posttraumatic stress symptomology as a result of experiencing a traumatic event or series of events. This evidence-based practice allows for practitioner expertise in adapting the order and time spent on each of the treatment components to best meet the individual needs of the child and his or her caretaker. This article provides an overview of the treatment components of TF-CBT, its application across various settings, use with diverse populations, and effectiveness.

Article

Michelle S. Ballan, Molly Burke Freyer, and Lauren Powledge

Evidence-based interventions for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are explored, and trends and changes in the diagnosis of ASD in the United States are examined. Evidence-based interventions in various settings and modalities are discussed, with detailed descriptions of several effective evidence-based interventions including joint attention training, video modeling, story-based interventions, and activity schedules. The integral role of social workers in the lives of children with ASD in multiple settings, particularly the classroom, is emphasized. Social work must be vigilant to keep pace with the ever-changing field of autism, with its frequent improvements in understanding, diagnosis, and treatment.

Article

Couples  

Susan C. Harnden

This entry discusses the evolution of the field of couples counseling from an auxiliary service provided through a variety of professional disciplines to a well-established field defined by its own standards, approaches, and a building body of research. While a few interventions for couples have been well researched using well-established standards, many of the interventions used by practitioners still lack evidence-based research or standard criteria. Also the research does little to address diversity and the application of interventions considering race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic levels. These concerns require ongoing attention.

Article

Rosalyn M. Bertram

This entry presents frameworks for implementing effective services. When service organizations understand and work through implementation frameworks, programs can achieve targeted fidelity and client outcomes in a sustainable manner while enhancing practitioner competence and confidence, and improving organizational culture and climate. These frameworks should be but are not yet infused throughout social work curricula. They provide a practical and conceptual bridge for supporting effective delivery of evidence-based or empirically informed practices.

Article

Virginia Rondero Hernandez

Generalist and advanced generalist practice evolved out of a century-long debate about what constitutes social work practice. Generalist practice currently refers to the practice of a bachelor level social worker who demonstrates basic competencies in multilevel, multimethod approaches. Advanced generalist practice refers to the practice of a master social worker who possesses advanced competencies in multilevel, multimethod approaches and is equipped to work independently in complex environments that may require specialized skill sets. The definition and educational content of generalist and advanced generalist practice are poised to be influenced by national debate once again, as the profession examines the merits of evidence-based practice and implementation science and their implications for social work education.

Article

Addie Weaver, Joseph Himle, Gail Steketee, and Jordana Muroff

This entry offers an overview of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Cognitive behavioral therapy is introduced and its development as a psychosocial therapeutic approach is described. This entry outlines the central techniques and intervention strategies utilized in CBT and presents common disorder-specific applications of the treatment. The empirical evidence supporting CBT is summarized and reviewed. Finally, the impact of CBT on clinical social work practice and education is discussed, with attention to the treatment’s alignment with the profession’s values and mission.

Article

Michael S. Kelly and Marjorie C. Colindres

Task-centered practice is a social work technology designed to help clients and practitioners collaborate on specific, measurable, and achievable goals. It is designed to be brief (typically, 8–12 sessions) and can be used with individuals, couples, families, and groups in a wide variety of social work practice contexts. With nearly 40 years of practice and research arguing for its effectiveness, task-centered practice can rightfully claim to be one of social work’s original “evidence-based practices,” though the relative paucity of research on its effectiveness in this decade suggests that the approach itself may have become increasingly integrated into other brief social work technologies.