Evidence-based practices (EBP) are subjected to extremely laborious and extensive testing and evaluated to ensure their efficacy (Small, Reynolds, O’Conner, & Cooney, 2005). Programs that have been found to be effective and positively influence social problems over time and target specific populations are considered to be an EBP. EBP’s do not mandate they types of interventions the social worker should utilize. EBP’s provide the social worker with an array of soundly researched options of which to choose from, matching the intervention to the needs of the client (Thayer, 2010). “EBP is actually a process of inquiry offered to practitioners” (Thayer, 2010, pg. 7). Finally, another characteristic of an EBP is that it is peer-reviewed and the experts in the field of the study agree with the outcomes, at which point it is published in a journal and federally endorsed (Cooney, Huser, Small, O’Connor, 2007). All of this put together requires that in order for an intervention to be considered an EBP it must pass a number of tests and requirements.
Factors Supporting & Impeding Adoption of EBP’s
One factor supporting the implementation of an EBP is its effectiveness. If the program is shown to have effective outcomes for a number of settings and populations the intervention has a higher likelihood of being adopted (Cooney, Huser, Small, O’Connor, 2007). One factor that both supports and impedes the adoption of an EBP is its cost-effectiveness. If the EBP is more cost effective than what is currently being used the powers that be may decide to adopt the EBP into current programs. If on the other hand, the EBP proves not to be cost effective it may most likely not be adopted even should it prove to have excellent outcomes (Small, Reynolds, O’Conner, & Cooney, 2005). One reason an EBP is not adopted is that it may be viewed as culturally incompatible with the population being served. There is evidence that shows when the culture of EBP is different than the culture being served the adaptations may lead to poorer outcomes and render the EBP to be less effective (O’Connor, Small, & Cooney, 2007).
Cooney, S.M., Huser, C.M., Small, S., O’Connor, C. (2007). Evidence-based programs: An overview. What Works, Wisconsin – Research to Practice Series, (6), 1-8.
O’Connor, C., Small, S. A., & Cooney, S. M. (2007, April). Program fidelity and adaptation: Meeting local needs without compromising program effectiveness. What Works, Wisconsin – Research to Practice Series, 4, 1-6.
Small, S. A., Reynolds, A. J., O’Conner, C., & Cooney, S. M. (2005). What works, Wisconsin: What science tells us about cost-effective programs for juvenile delinquency prevention. Retrieved from http://whatworks.uwex.edu/attachment/whatworkswisconsin.pd
Thayer, B. (2010) Introductory principles in social work research. In B. Thayer (Ed), The handbook of social work research methods (2nd ed., pp. 1-8). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.