A CRITICALLY REFLECTIVE APPROACH TO EVIDENCE-BASED PRACTICE
A Sample of School Social Workers
Definitions of EBP
The first type of definition implies that practitioners are recipients of existing research knowledge. These definitions of evidence-based practice represent a deterministic, prescriptive approach to practice. According to these definitions, knowledge is created by researchers, and handed to practitioners to be applied in practice situations. The second type of definition suggests that practitioners investigate practiceproblems, and assess research in accordance with their clinical judgment and then, thirdly, collaborate with their clients Some authors define evidence-based practice with a focus not on the research, but rather on the practitioner; on her or his professional judgment, skills, and knowledge acquisition processes. These distinctions regarding the evidence and the role of the practitioner, are but one area of debate concerning evidence-based practice. evidence-based practice generally understood effort to direct practitioners to base their interventions upon formal research, promising benefits to both clients and practitioners.
Emergence of EBP in Social Work
* During the empirical practice movement questions about the credibility, effectiveness, and efficacy of social work have been raised. EBP emphasizes science, and, by lessening reliance on professional judgment; offers a sense of certainty about social work interventions. Some authors suggest that evidence-based practice in particular is tied to neo-liberalism. In this context, evidence-based practice ensures that social workers provide high-quality services effectively
* The public's reluctance to accept social work's authority has forced social work, like many other professions, to adopt evidence-based practice as a new mechanism of trust Beginning in the 1990s, public cynicism concerning the welfare state and "expert systems" led many to doubt the validity of social work interventions
* Government cutbacks and a demand from funding bodies for accountability and efficiency have also necessitated the adoption and implementation of evidence-based practice.Quality and accountability have become the watchwords of health and mental health services" Governments and agencies embraced evidence-based practice as a method of ensuring quality services and demonstrating accountability in service delivery
The Promises of EBP for Clients and Social Workers
Promises made by proponents of evidence-based practice are numerous. Supporters of EBP claim that clients will receive better services, occupy a more egalitarian position, and are less likely to be harmed when practitioners use evidence-based practices. For social workers themselves, protection from lawsuits, enhanced job security and service funding, increased professional confidence, and improved professional status and credibility are promises associated with evidence-based practices. Many authors argue that reliance on research evidence leads to better decision-making by social work practitioners and, results in, improved services. It is also claimed that clients, able themselves to access the 'evidence', will achieve greater equity with professionals. Numerous authors assert that EBP is the most ethical way to practice. Gambrill (2003), in her support of EBP, suggests that social work practice that is not evidence-based may potentially be harmful to clients
Barriers to Using Evidence
For some other authors
* Despite an increasingly available literature concerning evidence-based practice, dissemination studies reveal that social work practitioners have been neither accessing nor implementing the available evidence * For some, EBP remains overwhelming, unclear, or irrelevant * Barriers to the implementation of evidence-based practice include social workers' doubts about the applicability of research findings to practice settings...
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