In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Evidence-based Social Work Practice: Finding Evidence

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Works
  • Textbooks
  • Bibliographies
  • Journals
  • Finding Evidence-Based Practices: General References
  • Finding Assessment Instruments: General References
  • Mental Health and Substance Use

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Social Work Evidence-based Social Work Practice: Finding Evidence
Edward J. Mullen
  • LAST REVIEWED: 03 August 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 July 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0043


This entry identifies and describes bibliographic resources useful for finding social work interventions that are evidence based. These interventions include assessment procedures, specific social work practices, and more complex social programs. The citations in this entry refer to such interventions as evidence-based practices, empirically supported interventions (or treatments or therapies), empirically validated treatments, research-based treatments, and evidence-informed interventions. Related terms are “practice guidelines,” “best practices,” and “model programs.” Most often these latter three terms are used to refer to interventions that are based on some combination of professional consensus, expert opinion, and research evidence, whereas the former five refer to practices supported by research evidence. Because there is a range of expert opinions about what criteria should be used to establish a practice as evidence based, this entry takes an inclusive approach to the topic and includes citations for finding evidence-based practices broadly defined. This entry provides guidance for locating key introductory works, textbooks, bibliographies, journals, and evidence-based practice references for practices with specific populations and in specific problem areas. Because by its nature evidence is continually being updated as new research findings emerge, most reference works are in electronic format, permitting continuous or frequent updating. If available, relevant traditional texts, journals, and reference works are recommended as well. This entry complements the Oxford Bibliographies articles in Social Work “Evidence-Based Social Work Practice: Issues, Controversies, and Debates” and the “Evidence-Based Social Work Practice.”

Introductory Works

Because of the explosion of information sources now available, it can be a major challenge for social workers to efficiently locate credible and usable information identifying evidence-based practices. Therefore, a first step in locating evidence-based practice is to become familiar with the types of information resources that are available. The citations in this section provide an orientation to where to find such information. To better understand the types of information sources available for locating evidence-based practices, including advantages and disadvantages of those sources, readers should begin with Haynes 2006. Haynes describes five types of information sources (5S); namely, reports of individual research studies, evidence syntheses, synopses of the evidence, evidence summaries, and information systems. References to sources of each of these types are provided in subsequent sections of this entry (with the exception of information systems). The Roberts and Yeager 2004 manual is a good place to begin to locate Internet sources. The Evidence-Based Behavioral-Practice Search for Evidence Module training module provides guided training for searching for evidence and is especially helpful for those wishing to receive continuing education credit.

  • Evidence-Based Behavioral-Practice. Search for Evidence Module.

    This module, which is freely accessible, provides a video introduction to finding evidence, including a description of the R. Brian Haynes “5S” framework. Select module 3, “Searching for Evidence.” The module takes approximately thirty minutes to complete and is available for continuing education credit.

  • Haynes, R. Brian. 2006. Of studies, syntheses, synopses, summaries, and systems: The “5S” evolution of information services for evidence-based health care decisions. American College of Physicians Journal Club 145.3: A8–A9.

    This brief editorial is a good place to start when considering how to find evidence-based practices. The title identifies five types of information sources to consider. Haynes suggests that, when searching for evidence, one should begin by looking for evidence information systems, then evidence summaries, then synopses of the evidence, then evidence syntheses, and then individual studies.

  • Roberts, Albert R., and Kenneth R. Yeager. 2004. Internet resources on evidence-based practice and research in health care and human services. In Evidence-based practice manual: Research and outcome measures in health and human services. Edited by Albert R. Roberts and Kenneth R. Yeager. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    Use this appendix to locate a wide range of resources for evidence-based practices in health and the human services. Especially useful for social workers is the section on evidence-based practice and the human services. In addition to Internet resources, key texts are listed. Since this manual has not been revised since publication in 2004, the references are now somewhat dated and some Internet citations may no longer be accurate.

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