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J Evid Based Soc Work. 2006 Mar 1;3(1):23-48.

The Current State of Evidence-Based Practice in Social Work: A Review of the Literature and Qualitative Analysis of Expert Interviews.

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Jennifer L. Bellamy, Sarah E. Bledsoe, and Dorian E. Traube are affiliated with the Columbia University School of Social Work.


While there is recent movement toward Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) in social work, criticisms subsist regarding the profession's translation of research into viable practices. Evidence describing effective interventions exists, but research that addresses dissemination and implementation is generally lacking. This paper highlights existing literature on dissemination and explores the barriers, themes, and trends in EBP through eight expert interviews. The interviews reflect the issues described in the literature and provide additional insight to the process of implementation and dissemination of EBP. Findings from the literature and interviews are synthesized into research and practice recommendations.While there is a call for Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) in social work and mental health services, there have also been a number of criticisms about the implementation of research findings into viable methods of practice. These barriers range from the egregious lag-time between research development to dissemination of evidence to practice settings to a veritable lack of support and training for community practitioners. There is a growing body of evidence describing effective interventions, but there is not a substantial body of work addressing the dissemination of these programs and other research findings for use in the field. This paper highlights some of the work around dissemination of EBPs in the field of social work with an emphasis on mental health services including an overview of the barriers to the use of evidence in practice and proposed models of conceptualization and implementation of EBP. To further highlight the current barriers, themes, and trends in EBP eight experts in the field of EBP were interviewed. The goal of the interviews was to survey the opinions of expert researchers in the area of EBP to supplement knowledge described in the literature. The experts' responses reflected many of the same issues described in the literature as well as additional information regarding their efforts toward determining the most viable options to address the barriers to implementing and disseminating EBP. Findings from the literature review and interviews are synthesized into recommendations for future research and practice efforts.

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