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.
S. J. Dodd and Andrea Savage
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 use of available knowledge and the development of practice innovations. Organizational learning is a means of engaging in this process. This implies that social agencies both adopt an organizational culture and create structural arrangements conducive to learning. In order to successfully create such a culture and structure, it is first important to understand 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. In addition a methodology for the application of organizational learning in social services is essential to practical application. The use of organizational learning methods to drive innovation and knowledge management has been applied in a varied spectrum of social work practice areas and social welfare agencies.
Ahmed T. Helal
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.
Edith M. Freeman
This article defines social work methods and then presents a framework with criteria for analyzing methods from a social work perspective. These criteria are organized into the boundary, value, prescriptive, descriptive, therapeutic bond and tasks, and evidence dimensions. The framework is designed to encourage social workers in all functions to analyze how well a particular method meets these interrelated client-centered criteria, and to use them, modify them, or not use them accordingly. The lessons from this analysis are summarized in terms of the profession's continuing role in identifying essential criteria and building knowledge about effective social work methods.
Allan Hugh Cole Jr.
This entry discusses principal ways in which knowledge and knowing have been understood within philosophy, science, and social science, with implications for contemporary social work practice. Attention is given to various types of knowledge, its necessary conditions, scope, and sources. It focuses particularly on how practice wisdom remains a key source of knowledge for social work theory and practice, and suggests that greater epistemological clarity could further competent social work practice in an increasingly pluralistic world.