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Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2003 Dec;26(4):851-65.

Training in evidence-based practice.

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Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, 25 Park Street, 6th Floor, New Haven, CT 06519, USA.


Controversy surrounds the concept of EBP. Many individuals question whether research is capable of guiding decisions about diagnosis and treatment, or whether it simply gives oversimplified answers to highly complex questions about human behavior. These concerns aside, it is hard to envision a future in which consumers and payers do not demand that the health professions ground their interventions in an evidence base. It is sobering to recognize that training in EBP has been far from the norm in the various behavioral health disciplines. This is just one aspect of a much larger crisis in behavioral health workforce education. Graduate and residency programs have not kept pace with many of the changes in behavioral health care delivery over the past decade. The field continues to use continuing education strategies that are ineffective, and little training is offered to the paraprofessional and bachelor-prepared staff members who comprise a large segment of the workforce in public sector and inpatient settings. Broad strategies are needed to overcome the lethargy in behavioral health education and training programs to make them more relevant to contemporary clinical practice. Incorporating evidence-based approaches to treatment is one critical element of needed reforms. General medicine has laid a foundation that can be built on for teaching the process of EBP. Psychiatry and psychology have taken the lead in identifying those interventions to be taught that are evidence-based or empirically supported. Research on continuing education and adult learning illuminates the educational strategies that are likely effective in teaching evidence-based interventions and an evidence-based process of care. Additionally, the research on changing provider behavior shows the importance of ensuring practice environments that support and reinforce, rather than thwart, the practice of evidence-based treatment. There are many resources to draw on but the task facing educators is substantial.

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