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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

Experimental and quasi-experimental research provides the foundation for all evidence-based practice systems that seek to identify and promote the use of social work practices of demonstrated effectiveness. This reflects the prevailing perspective that experimental research is the only definitive basis for claims that certain outcomes can be altered by the effects of a given intervention. At this point in the evolution of social work research, however, the body of work based on experimentation is not extensive. In response to the challenges of implementing experiments related to social interventions, researchers have developed new approaches, such as group randomized designs. Also, newly developed statistical methods may provide ways to control the selection bias inherent in quasi-experimental designs. This entry explores the central place of experimental and quasi-experimental designs in social work research, the challenges of using them, and recent developments that may expand their use.

Article

Carol M. Lewis and Shanti Kulkarni

Despite downward trends in the U.S. teen birth rate overall, the associated social and economic costs are still significant. Historically, teen pregnancy prevention policy and program adoption have been influenced by the sociopolitical environment at national, state, and local levels. Recent federal efforts have begun to re-emphasize the importance of developing and supporting evidence-based prevention efforts. Current teen pregnancy prevention approaches are reviewed with attention to the range of program philosophies, components, settings, populations served, and documented effectiveness. Promising directions in pregnancy prevention program development for adolescents are also highlighted.

Article

Julia H. Littell

Systematic reviews summarize a body of empirical evidence to address important questions for practice and social policy. Widely used to compile evidence about intervention effects in the helping professions, systematic reviews can also be used to assess rates, trends, associations, and variations on many topics. Credible reviews are based on the science of research synthesis, which provides the theoretical and empirical foundations that undergird efforts to minimize bias and error at each step in the review process to ensure that systematic reviews are comprehensive and their conclusions are accurate. Methods for the synthesis of quantitative studies are well developed. Meta-analysis, a set of statistical procedures, is often used in quantitative reviews, but meta-analysis is only one part of the systematic review process; other steps are needed to limit bias and error. Methods for systematic reviews of qualitative research are under development, as are strategies to combine quantitative and qualitative data in reviews.

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

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

Cynthia Franklin and Laura M. Hopson

Family intervention has become an important tool for social work practitioners. This entry provides a brief history of family intervention and important influences as well as a synopsis of current research. Although these interventions require more research to better understand the populations for whom they are most effective, the evidence supports their usefulness in addressing such issues as aggression, substance use, and depression, among others.

Article

Julia H. Littell

Meta-analysis is widely used in the social, behavioral, and medical sciences to combine results of multiple studies and produce relevant information for clinical practice and social policy. It is most often used to synthesize quantitative data on treatment effects, but it has many potential applications. Meta-analysis includes a set of techniques for quantitative data synthesis that can (and should) be performed in the context of systematic efforts to minimize bias at each step in the research review process (see Systematic Reviews). Without careful efforts to eliminate bias, meta-analysis can lead to wrong conclusions.

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

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

Ronald Pitner, Hadass Moore, Gordon Capp, Aidyn Iachini, Ruth Berkowitz, Rami Benbenishty, and Ron Avi Astor

This article focuses on socio-ecological and whole-school approaches to coping with school violence, while highlighting best practices for selecting, developing, and monitoring interventions. We present several empirically supported programs, followed by identified characteristics of successful interventions and considerations on selecting an appropriate program for a particular school. Finally, we discuss the systematic monitoring method and approach and its utility in creating safer schools while emphasizing the contextual features and the nested environment in which schools reside. We suggest manners in which the systematic monitoring approach can be considered, advocated, and implemented by school staff members, particularly school social workers.

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

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 major international governmental and nongovernmental organizations and their activities are discussed with reference to their global co-coordinating, advocacy, service, and research functions. Attention is also given to the work of international professional associations.