What is Evidence-informed Practice (EIP)?
EIP is new in the field of child welfare and there may be some uncertainty around its application. Appreciating the role of EIP is an ongoing process and is directly related to being a lifelong learner.
EIP builds upon evidence-based practice (EBP) to include sources of evidence that extend beyond traditional scientific studies, for example randomized-control trials. EIP involves the conscientious and judicious use of various types of information when making decisions about policy and practice. EIP considers:
- The best available research evidence
- Client preferences and values
- The case circumstances state and context
- Practitioner knowledge and experience.
Multidimensional Evidence-informed Practice: includes knowledge from research and from the perspectives of different stakeholder groups, such as clients and professionals. PART has embraced the notion of multidimensional evidence-informed practice by promoting the belief that different “ways of knowing” contribute to alternative sources of valuable information for improving practice.
Using EIP is like continually gathering evidence and putting it in your bag wherever you go. When you encounter a situation related to a specific topic, you consult this evidence and critically think by asking questions like:
- What does the evidence say?
- What are the different research methodologies?
- How does this apply to my situation?
- What do stakeholders say about the evidence?
- What do service users say about the evidence?
- Is there new evidence on this issue?
All of these questions will guide you in your use of the information that you’ve collected in your bag.
EIP & Training
- EIP has potential to create change in organizations and systems, and has been proposed as a method of supporting critical thinking and practice in child welfare that is based on sound evidence (Trocmé, Esposito, Laurendeau, Thomson, & Milne, 2009).
- It is argued that existing knowledge is underused by child welfare practitioners and that in order to move forward as a profession we must move toward an approach that utilizes evidence in practice (Gambrill 1999; 2001).
- The use of research to inform practice can increase accountability and transparency in decision-making, better determine whether interventions will likely have the desired outcome, and ensure that practitioner decisions to intervene are informed by the best available knowledge (Epstein, 2009).
- EIP practice and policy at the macro level offers the field great potential for honouring ethical guidelines to integrate practice and research, to respond ethically to problems of scarce resources, to involve clients as informed participants, to enhance social and economic justice, and to empower clients (Gambrill, 2008).
- Extant literature illustrates that evidence-informed practice in child welfare organizations is associated with organizational cultures of learning (Collins-Camargo & Royse, 2010), which are important for practitioner retention, well-being, and child and family outcomes.
- California Social Work Education Center (2010). From Data...to Outcomes: Trainer’s Guide. Retrieved from: http://calswec.berkeley.edu/files/uploads/pdf/CalSWEC/DO_Trnr_Seg2_v1.pdf
- Collins-Camargo, C. & Royse, D. (2010). A study of relationships among effective supervision, organizational culture promoting evidence-based practice, and worker self-efficacy in public child welfare. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 4, 1-24.
- Epstein, I. (2009). Promoting harmony where there is commonly conflict: Evidence-informed practice as an integrative strategy. Social Work in Health Care, 48, 216-231.
- Gambrill, E. (1999). Evidence-based practice: An alternative to authority-based practice. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Human Services. 80, 341-350.
- Gambrill, E. (2001). Social work: An authority-based profession. Research on Social Work Practice. 11, 166-176.
- Gambrill, E. (2008). Evidence-based (informed) macro practice: Process and Philosophy. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 5, 423-452.
- Trocmé, N., Esposito, T., Laurendeau, C., Thomson, W., & Milne, L. (2009). Knowledge mobilization in child welfare. Criminologie, 42, 33-59.