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Definition of Evidence-Based Practice (EBP)

"In social work, most agree that EBP is a process involving creating an answerable question based on a client or organizational need, locating the best available evidence to answer the question, evaluating the quality of the evidence as well as its applicability, applying the evidence, and evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of the solution.

EBP is a process in which the practitioner combines well-researched interventions with clinical experience, ethics, client preferences, and culture to guide and inform the delivery of treatments and services."
- Definitions, Evidence-Based Practice, National Association of Social Workers (NASW),

Practice Guidelines

Guidelines are "recommended procedures for accomplishing a given task or achieving a set of goals and objectives, formulated by a body with authority to speak on the subject but less binding than the formal standards used in evaluation and assessment"

Searching for Evidence-Based Literature

The pyramid below could be used to classify levels of evidence in the literature. Highest levels help in identifying the most empirically supported interventions/treatments when answering research questions.

Image of a Hierarchy of the Evidence.

RCT = Randomized Controlled Trial
Source: Pyramid modified from: Navigating the Maze, University of Virginia, Health Sciences Library

Consider adding these terms to your search for evidence-based information:

  • treatment guidelines
  • best practices
  • guidelines
  • practice guidelines
  • evidence-based
  • treatment planners
  • specific types of studies (meta-analysis, systematic reviews, etc.)   

    Also visit the Conducting a Literature Review Guide on searching for evidence-based literature                                       

Social Work and Other Human Services

Evidence-based Health and Psychology Databases