Evidence-based practice and service-based evaluation

Evidence-based practice and service-based evaluation

8 November 2013

The second in a series of five resources released in November as part of our Focus on... Evaluation in social services.

The call for services to ensure that their programs and practices are informed by, if not grounded in, well-conducted, relevant, scientific research evidence has grown louder in recent years. The term "evidence-based practice" is now in common usage, and the impact of using evidence-based practice principles in guiding service development and delivery is reflected in higher standards of service provision

Types of evidence

"Evidence-based practice" is a term that was originally coined in the field of medicine in the 1990s. Since then, it has been increasingly adopted by the helping professions and defined in this context as the point of overlap between best evidence, practitioner expertise and client values (Gibbs, 2003). Some professionals consider "evidence-informed practice" a more accurate term, as it better reflects that decisions are informed or guided, rather than influenced solely, by evidence (Shlonsky & Ballan, 2011).

In order to both inform and evaluate what they do, practitioners need to understand the various types of evidence that can be used to test their program objectives. The different types of evidence allow stronger or weaker conclusions to be drawn - the better the evidence, the more confidence you can have in your conclusions.

Access the full paper here.

Access our other resources in this series here.

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