Some good articles/links – evidence-based practice

Reflection in a drop of water

(Photo: Evan Leeson)

Each Friday I post six useful or interesting articles. Last week I focused on engaging ‘hard to reach’ families because of the work my colleagues and I will be doing over the coming 12 months with organisations who provide children and parenting support. As this work will also emphasise evidence-based practice, this week’s articles are about evidence-based practice.

Evidence-based practice and practice-based evidence: What does it all mean? by the Centre for Community Child Health – a policy brief which “outlines the complexities involved in selecting interventions for early childhood services” and argues for “a broader method of assessing outcomes of interventions through incorporating practice-based evidence into our understanding of evidence-based practice.”

What Supports and Impedes Evidence-Based Practice Implementation? A Survey of Australian Social Workers by Mel Gray, Elyssa Joy, Debbie Plath and Stephen Webb in the British Journal of Social Work – “This paper reports on findings from a national survey (n = 364) of social workers’ views on what impedes and supports evidence-based practice (EBP) implementation. In contrast to some prior research, support for EBP was found to be strong among the social workers surveyed. Open-ended responses, however, reflected some reservations about the formalisation, relevance, usability and applicability of EBP in social work. A range of barriers to EBP implementation for social workers were identified at individual and organisational levels, which is largely supportive of findings from prior research. An interesting distinction was discerned between those respondents who preferred to engage in the whole EBP process themselves (locating, appraising and applying research) and those who preferred to adopt practice guidelines based on appraisal of research evidence by other experts. This finding has implications for the way organisations and the social work profession approach the implementation of EBP.

Implementing Evidence-Based Practice: An Organisational Perspective by Debbie Plath in the British Journal of Social Work – “Qualitative findings on how evidence-based practice (EBP) is conceptualised and implemented in an Australian human service organisation are presented. The paper examines the application and relevance of the five-step decision-making model of EBP to the organisational context and also the position of standardised ‘evidence-based programmes’ in relation to EBP decision making. The case study has shown that the five-step model of EBP decision making is relevant to a human service organisational context, but that some modifications of the model would enhance its applicability and utility. First, it is proposed that the five-step model would be better conceived systemically to reflect the relational and contextual processes impacting on practice decision making in the teams and organisations in which social workers practise, rather than being confined to individual, clinical decision making. Second, a cyclic model is offered in order to capture a process of ongoing critical reflection, evidence gathering and programme modification as organisations develop and refine programmes to address priorities and improve client outcomes in complex and dynamic environments.”

Rethinking evidence-based practice and two-generation programs to create the future of early childhood policy by Jack Shonkoff and Philip Fisher in Development and Psychopathology – I must confess I found this a bit challenging, but still interesting. They argue that “substantially better outcomes for vulnerable, young children could be achieved by greater attention to strengthening the resources and capabilities of the adults who care for them rather than by continuing to focus primarily on the provision of child-focused enrichment, parenting education, and informal support. Central to achieving this goal is the need to establish an innovation-friendly environment that embraces fast-cycle sharing, supports risk taking, and celebrates learning from failure.” It includes a discussion about the type of evidence we should be relying on.” Amongst other things they suggest there is a “critical need to expand the definition of evidence to include broadly accepted scientific principles from the biological and social sciences rather than restrict the definition to results of experimental evaluations and benefit–cost studies.”

Evidence-Based Practice by the Social Work Policy Institute – this blog post defines evidence-based practice and provides links to a range of useful resources. In it, they suggest a possible “hierarchy of evidence”.

A conscious and inclusive family studies by Katherine Allen in Journal of Marriage and the Family – This paper takes quite a different approach to evidence-based practice and, in Allen’s own words, “I argue that family scholars must take bolder steps to engage the tensions between our heritage of positivist science and its postmodern challenges. I also argue that constructing theories, utilizing research methods, and examining substantive issues should be relevant to the diversity of the families we study and to ourselves as members of families. I offer examples of developing an informed reflexive consciousness to broaden the rationalist foundation that dominates family scholarship. For a more inclusive, balanced, and invigorated family studies, our subjective experiences and commitments as researchers should be acknowledged, confronted, and integrated. A family studies that is responsible to our readers, students, selves, and the people whose lives we study requires that we engage the critical intersections of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and age as they define family diversity.”

This post came from a project I’m working on supporting nine children and parenting support programs in regional and rural NSW to enhance their capacity to implement evidence-based programs and practice. The project was funded by the Department funded by the Department of Social Services through the Children and Families Expert Panel. You can see other posts relating to this work at

If you liked this post please follow my blog (top right-hand corner of the blog), and you might like to look at:

  1. Previous weekend readings
  2. What are complex problems?
  3. A resilience practice framework by the Benevolent Society
  4. Childhood trauma and brain development
  5. Why I blog
  6. Playgroups as a foundation for working with hard to reach families


About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, environmentalist, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace, sustainability.
This entry was posted in Families & parenting, Good articles/links and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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