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Evidence-Based Practice A Stepwise Approach . Bruce D. Friedman, PhD, ACSW, CSWM University of Texas – Pan American Social Work Department [email protected] October 27, 2006 www.socialworkmanager.org. Objectives.

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Evidence-Based Practice A Stepwise Approach

Bruce D. Friedman, PhD, ACSW, CSWM

University of Texas – Pan American

Social Work Department

[email protected]

October 27, 2006



  • Understand evidence-based practice & its relationship to the professional, client system, existing knowledge, and values & expectations.

  • Develop an understanding on how to ask focused clinical questions.

  • Develop search strategies that include:

    • Identifying appropriate search engines on the web. (Various search engines may be used depending on connectivity).

  • Learn how to critically appraise literature for validity and applicability.


  • Suspected accuracy of assessment of treatment protocols.

  • Our textbooks are out of date.

  • Our journals have slim pickings with too much to read and too little time.

  • Consequently, our knowledge and performancedeteriorate.

  • Traditional instructional CE doesn’t improve our performanceorclient outcomes.

Three Solutions

Clinical performance can keep up to date by:

1. Learning how to practice EBP ourselves.

2.Seek and apply evidence-based practice summaries generated by others.

3. Apply evidence-based strategies for changing our clinical behavior.

“Evidence-Based Users”

  • Efficiently track and use sourcesof pre-appraised evidence (journals of secondary publication) provideimmediately applicable conclusions.

  • Master a set of skills to acquire up to date information for deliveringevidence-based care.

  • More likely (than personal search and critical appraisal) to be true.

  • Saves precious (scarce!) time.

  • Avoids error and duplication of effort.

What evidence-based practice is:

The practice of EBP is the integration of

  • individual clinical expertise

    with the

  • best available external clinical evidence from systematic researchand

  • client’s values and expectations.








Client Values

& Expectations

What do we mean by EBP?

  • A conscious decision to base clinical decisions on the most objective evidence of effectiveness available.

  • Involves a fundamental acknowledgement that our clinical convictions can be wrong.

Why is EBP necessary?

  • Essential to the process of lifelong learning and keeping up to date.

  • Frees you up to do things that you want to do.

  • It is egalitarian.

  • Best way of being sure that we provide effective care within the confines of our finite social service resources.

The EBP Process

When caring for a client it creates the need for information:

1. Ask a focused clinical question. ( “answerable question”)

Yogi Berra said….

"You got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there."

The EBP Process cont..

2. Efficiently track-down the best available evidence.

3. Critically appraise the evidence for its validity and clinical applicability.

4. Integrate the critical appraisal with your clinical expertise and the client’s unique values and expectations Action.

5. Evaluate your performance (= Audit).

Tactics for efficiently tracking down the best evidence

Carry out instant information searching as soon as we need to know something

The advantages of instant information searching

  • Answers found will be better remembered in the context of needing to know.

  • Will apply the information to similar patients in future.

  • Applying valid and relevant E-B information will improve outcomes in a timely fashion.

  • Answering questions that arise around problems we commonly see will keep us up to date with a minimum amount of work.

The usefulness of information equation

Usefulness of information =

Applicability x Validity


A stepwise approach to finding the best evidence efficiently

  • Step 1. Ask a focused clinical question.

  • Step 2. Devise a search strategy.

  • Step 3. For questions with a narrow focus concentrate on information contained in Evidence Based Journals of Secondary Publication

  • Step 4. For EBP queries use sites like TRIP or Mental Health

  • Step 5. If previous steps fail then use broader search engines like PubMed, or Google.





TRIP(Turning Research Into Practice) http://www.tripdatabase.com/

Mental Health Resourceshttp://www.mentalhealth.com

SUM Searchhttp://SumSearch.UTHSCSA.edu/cgi-bin/SUMSearch.exe

Cochrane Libraryhttp://www.cochrane.org/

Drug Reference Sitewww.rxlist.com

NASW - http://www.naswdc.org

Urban Institute www.urbaninstitute.org

Netting the Evidence: ScHARRhttp://www.shef.ac.uk/~scharr/ir/netting/

Search Strategy

  • Stick to “answerable questions”.

  • Remember EBP databases will predominantly have studies that satisfy the highest levels of evidence If an answer to your question can’t be found in these databases (e.g. TRIP) good evidence on this topic probably does not exist.

  • Restrict yourself to a handful of high quality databases that you can implicitly trust and know them well.

Literature Validity & Applicability

  • Does the literature answer your question?

  • Is the information useful in working with your client system?

  • How does the information relate to the client system’s value orientation?


  • What is evidence-based practice & its relationship to the professional, client system, existing knowledge, and values & expectations?

  • How do you ask focused clinical questions?

  • Identify two search engines and how you would use them.

  • Identify criteria for critically appraising literature for validity and applicability.

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