Evidence-Based Practice In Social Work

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Healy (2014) demonstrates that social work is a negotiated activity because we have to balance between meeting organisational demands, dealing with immediate risks but also think about long term consequences of the decisions that we make, such as the attachment of the child to their family and sense of belonging. Social workers also need to understand and respond to the ‘person in their environment’ (Healy, 2014, p.13). This means their immediate environment, social institutions and policies are integral to understand the person’s context. However, we are increasingly detached from political dimensions of practice and have been placing more emphasis on the individual (Reisch and Jani, 2012). Healy (2014) claims that the contextual nature of…show more content…
It utilises scientific method of testing evidence as randomised control trials, control groups and results from statistics and calculations based on numbered data (Ferguson, 2008). The purpose is to make practitioners use empirically-tested methods of practice that will allow practitioners to evaluate their own work (Allan, Briskman & Pease, 2009). Evidence-based practice can be useful in many context, especially when combined with qualitative research methods (Ferguson, 2008). However, it has many limitations in social work. It tends to prioritise the views of the researchers and fails to reflect the voices of service users. Ferguson (2008) argues that ‘what works’ according to the research is not necessarily best practice. Outcomes are impacted by nuances and process of how practice is done. Much of what we do in social work may not fit in with the scientific notion of ‘evidence’ but it is the core of what social work is (Ferguson, 2008). Best outcomes are created when theories and methods are adopted to the context of the service user’s experience and understand what how they make meanings of those experiences. Good practice involves having a courage to challenge dominant beliefs, motivating users to initiate change in their behaviours and beliefs, delivering advocacy, practical and material support,…show more content…
One of its problem is prioritising empirically tested evidence. Randomised controlled trials are considered to be at the top of the hierarchy of levels of evidence and ideas and opinions are at the bottom (Allan, Briskman & Pease, 2009). However, just because an intervention has been tested by randomised controlled trials to people with similar problems, it cannot be the best intervention for another person. It also has potential of excluding social work knowledge base and our understanding of economic, social and political influences. For example, it may not take account of what it means to be alienated from one’s own culture or the impact of economic deprivation (Allan, Briskman & Pease, 2009). Moreover, how can people’s experiences of discrimination and disempowerment be validated by an evidence-based framework? Giving voice to people who have been marginalised has been important part of social work. However, due to the hierarchy of evidence, expert knowledge is preferred in the evidence-based practice. Plath (2006) explains that the evidence-based practice is essentially finding evidence to prove the effectiveness of interventions. Plath (2006) further explores the three concepts of evidence-based practice (intervention, effectiveness and evidence) to illuminate its limitations when applied in social

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