Three Perspectives on Evidence-Based Practice

  • James W. Drisko
  • Melissa D. Grady
Part of the Essential Clinical Social Work Series book series (ECSWS)


This chapter explores EBP from three different perspectives: first, its application in practice decision-making; second, its use in defining health-care policy, costs, and administrative practices; and third, its impact on privileging certain research methods and research funding. EBP was initially developed to bring research evidence into treatment planning before treatments were begun, yet it has become a means to reshape professional autonomy and instead prioritize administrative authority. Research funding has also, and usefully, been shifted to support the knowledge base of EBP. At the same time, other types of research—qualitative, indigenous, and even exploratory and descriptive studies—have received lesser funding and have been somewhat delegitimatized by EBPs’ emphasis on experimental research outcomes. The EBP model, intended to support client decision-making, has often become bureaucratically standardized at policy and administrative levels.


  1. Ainsworth, M. D. (1964). Patterns of attachment behavior shown by the infant in interaction with his mother. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly of Behavior and Development, 10, 51–58.Google Scholar
  2. Ainsworth, M. D. (1978). Patterns of attachment: A psychological study of the strange situation. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  3. Alexander, K., Peterson, E., Granger, C., Casas, A. C., Van der Werf, F., Armstrong, P., et al. (1998). Potential impact of evidence-based medicine in acute coronary syndromes: Insights from GUSTO-IIb. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 32, 2023–2030.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Associated Press (2010, December 13). Some Alaskan parents fined if kids skip school. Retrieved from
  5. Belenky, M., Clinchy, B., Goldberger, N., & Tarule, J. (1986). Women’s ways of knowing. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  6. Black, N. (1994). Why we need qualitative research. Journal of Epidemiological Community Health, 48, 425–426.Google Scholar
  7. Brush, J. (2010, January 11). Letters: Looking at ways to treat depression. The New York Times Online. Retrieved Jan. 12, 2010 from
  8. Buetow, S., & Kenealy, T. (2000). Evidence-based medicine: The need for a new definition. Journal of Evaluation of Clinical Practice, 6(2), 85–92.Google Scholar
  9. Buetow, S., & Mintoft, B. (2011). When should patient intuition be taken seriously? Journal of General Internal Medicine, 26(4), 433–436.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Dillon, S. (2010, August 31). Formula to grade teachers’ skill gains acceptance, and critics. The New York Times. Retrieved from (print version September, 1, 2010, p. A1).
  11. Drisko, J. (1997). Strengthening qualitative studies and reports: Standards to enhance academic integrity. Journal of Social Work Education, 33, 187–197.Google Scholar
  12. Drisko, J. (2013). Standards for qualitative studies and reports. In R. Fortune et al. (Eds.), Qualitative research in social work (2nd ed., pp. 1–34). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Drisko, J., Corbin, J., & Begay, P. (2019). Multiple ways of knowing: Teaching research under EPAS 2015. Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work.
  14. Fals-Borda, O., & Rahman, M. (Eds.). (1991). Action and knowledge: Breaking the monopoly with participatory action research. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
  15. Flyvbjerg, B. (2001). Making social science matter: Why social inquiry fails and how it can succeed again. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Foucault, M. (1964). Madness and civilization: A history of insanity in the age of reason. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  17. Gambrill, E. (2001). Social work: An authority-based profession. Research on Social Work Practice, 11, 166–175.Google Scholar
  18. Gilgun, J. (2005). The four cornerstones of evidence-based practice. Research on Social Work Practice, 15(1), 52–61.Google Scholar
  19. Gilgun, J., Daly, K., & Handel, G. (1992). Qualitative methods in family research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  20. Greenhalgh, T. (2010). How to read a paper: The basics of evidence-based medicine. Hoboken, NJ: BMJ Books; Blackwell-Riley.Google Scholar
  21. Habermas, J. (1990). The philosophical discourse of modernity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  22. Harding, S. (1986). The science question in feminism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Hartman, A. (1990). Many ways of knowing. Social Work, 35(1), 3–4.Google Scholar
  24. Hartman, A. (1994). Many ways of knowing. In W. Reid & E. Sherman (Eds.), Qualitative research in social work (pp. 459–463). Washington, DC: NASW Press.Google Scholar
  25. Kovach, M. (2009). Indigenous methodologies: Characteristics, conversations, and contexts. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  26. Kovach, M. (2018). Doing indigenous methodologies: A letter to a research class. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), The sage handbook of qualitative research (5th ed., pp. 214–234). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  27. Kuhn, T. (1962). The structure of scientific revolutions (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: University Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  28. Larner, G. (2004). Family therapy and the politics of evidence. Journal of Family Therapy, 26, 17–39.Google Scholar
  29. Lehman, A. (2010). Adopting evidence-based practices: Our hesitation waltz. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 36(1), 1–2.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Levy, M. (2011, January 20). Lebanon school district sued over excessive truancy fines. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from
  31. Los Angeles Times. (n.d.). Grading the teachers: Value-added analysis. (A series of articles published over the summer of 2010). Retrieved from
  32. Lyotard, J.-F. (1984). The postmodern condition. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  33. Mace, C. (1999). Psychotherapy and the modernization of the UK health service. European Journal of Psychotherapy and Health, 2(2), 217–227.Google Scholar
  34. McMaster Group - The Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University Health Sciences Center. (1981). How to read clinical journals, [part] I: Why to read them and how to start reading them critically. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 124(5), 555–558.Google Scholar
  35. Minneapolis VA Health Care System. (2018). Mental health: Evidence-based treatments. Retrieved August 24, 2018 from
  36. Moore, M. (1988). What sort of ideas become public ideas? In R. Reich (Ed.), The power of public ideas (pp. 55–84). Cambridge, MA: Ballinger Publishing.Google Scholar
  37. Nelkin, D. (1996). The science wars: Responses to a marriage failed. Social Text, (46/47, 14), 93–100.Google Scholar
  38. Nelson, A. (2008). Addressing the threat of evidence-based practice to qualitative inquiry through increasing attention to quality: A discussion paper. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 45(2), 316–322.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Nespor, J. (2006). Methodological inquiry: The uses and spaces of paradigm proliferation. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 19, 115–128.Google Scholar
  40. Otterman, S. (2011, May 25). Tests for pupils, but the grades go to teachers. The New York Times Online. Retrieved from
  41. Panzarino, P., & Kellar, J. (1994). Integrating outcomes, quality and utilization data for profiling behavioral health providers. Behavioral Healthcare Tomorrow, 3(6), 27–30.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Popay, J., & Williams, G. (1994). Researching the people’s health: Social research and health care. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  43. Popay, J., & Williams, G. (1998). Qualitative research and evidence-based healthcare. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 91.(Supp 35, 32–37.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  44. Pope, C. (2003). Resisting evidence: The study of evidence-based medicine as a contemporary social movement. Health, 7(3), 267–282.Google Scholar
  45. Postal, L., & Balona, D-. M. (2011, January 18). It’s time to grade parents, new bill proposes. The Orlando [FL] Sentinel.
  46. Quine, W. V. O. (1953). Two dogmas of empiricism. In W. V. O. Quine (Ed.), From a logical point of view (pp. 20–46). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Ravetz, J. (1979). Scientific knowledge and its social problems. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Reed, G., & Eisman, E. (2006). Uses and misused of evidence: Managed care, treatment guidelines, and outcomes measurement in professional practice. In C. Goodheart, A. Kazdin, & R. Sternberg (Eds.), Evidence-based psychotherapy: Where practice and research meet (pp. 13–35). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  49. Reich, R. (1988). The power of public ideas. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger Publishing.Google Scholar
  50. Riessman, C. (Ed.). (1994). Qualitative studies in social work research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  51. Rodwell [O’Connor], M. (1998). Social work constructivist research. New York: Garland.Google Scholar
  52. Romana, H.-W. (2006). Is evidence-based medicine patient-centered and is patient-centered care evidence-based? Health Services Research, 41(1), 1–8.PubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  53. Rorty, R. (1979). Philosophy and the mirror of nature. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Rubin, A., & Bellamy, J. (2012). Practitioner’s guide to using research for evidence-based practice (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  55. Rustin, M. (2001). Research, evidence and psychotherapy. In C. Mace, S. Moorey, & B. Roberts (Eds.), Evidence in the psychological therapies: A critical guide for practitioners (pp. 27–45). New York: Brunner-Routledge.Google Scholar
  56. Schwandt, T. (2005). The centrality of practice to evaluation. American Journal of Evaluation, 26, 95–105.Google Scholar
  57. Shaw, I. (1999). Qualitative evaluation. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  58. Sherman, E., & Reid, W. (Eds.). (1994). Qualitative research in social work. New York: Columbia.Google Scholar
  59. Stern, D. (1985). The interpersonal world of the infant. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  60. Tanenbaum, S. (1999). Evidence and expertise: The challenge of the outcomes movement to medical professionalism. Academic Medicine, 74, 757–763.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Tanenbaum, S. (2003). Evidence-based practice in mental health: Practical weakness meets political strengths. Journal of Evidence in Clinical Practice, 9, 287–301.Google Scholar
  62. Tonelli, M. (1998). The philosophical limits of evidence-based medicine. Academic Medicine, 73(12), 1234–1240.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Tonelli, M. (2001). The limits of evidence-based medicine. Respiratory Care, 46(2), 1435–1440.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  64. Trinder, L. (2000a). A critical appraisal of evidence-based practice. In L. Trinder & S. Reynolds (Eds.), Evidence-based practice: A critical appraisal (pp. 212–241). Ames, IA: Blackwell Science.Google Scholar
  65. Trinder, L. (2000b). Introduction: The context of evidence-based practice. In L. Trinder & S. Reynolds (Eds.), Evidence-based practice: A critical appraisal (pp. 1–16). Ames, IA: Blackwell Science.Google Scholar
  66. Tuhiwai Smith, L. (1999). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. Dunedin, NZ: University of Otego Press.Google Scholar
  67. Wennberg, J. (1984). Dealing with medical practice variations: A proposal for action. Health Affairs, 3, 6–12.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  68. Women’s Health Initiative. (2002). Risk and benefits of estrogen plus progestin in healthy postmenopausal women: Principal results from the Women’s Health Initiative randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Medical Association, 288(3), 321–333.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • James W. Drisko
    • 1
  • Melissa D. Grady
    • 2
  1. 1.School for Social WorkSmith CollegeNorthamptonUSA
  2. 2.School of Social ServiceCatholic University of AmericaWashington, DCUSA

Personalised recommendations