Creating an organisational culture for evidence-informed practice

Content type
Short article

March 2021


Anagha Joshi, Nerida Joss

This is the third short article in a series focusing on the use of evidence in practice. This article describes how organisations can support practitioners to use evidence in decision making and practice for improved outcomes.


To improve outcomes for the children and families they work with, organisations in the child, family and community welfare sector can implement intentional strategies to support their practitioners to adopt an evidence-informed approach to practice.1 Assessing and using research in decision making can contribute towards better outcomes in practice because research provides rigorous and reliable insights into what works alongside practice norms and assumptions.2,3 This article describes the ways that organisations can create a supportive culture for their practitioners to use research findings in practice.

Organisational strategies to support evidence-informed practice

Low organisational commitment, including a lack of management support and poor resource investment, has been identified as a potential barrier to supporting research use in practice and policy settings.4,5,6,7 This can hinder the practical application of research, such as: knowing where to find relevant research; assessing research quality and interpreting findings; and understanding how to apply research findings to different contexts.4,6,8 Practitioners require dedicated time and upskilling to be able to review, select and apply research for optimum outcomes in their work.

Three organisational strategies have been shown to be effective in creating a culture that values evidence-informed decision making and assists practitioners to use research.

1. Authorising environment

Organisations can empower practitioners to use research by prioritising evidence-informed practice and embedding processes to support this.6,9 Strategic mechanisms to counteract resistance to change may be required to shift cultures where practice wisdom is prioritised.1 Allocating protected time for practitioners and teams to attend professional development (e.g. webinars) or to read and discuss research in meetings can help to create an authorising environment for using evidence.4,5 Dedicating time in team meetings to actively review research evidence and consider how findings can be applied and used is also an effective strategy.9

2. Positive leadership

Supervisors and organisational leaders play a fundamental role in encouraging an evidence-informed approach to practice. This includes role modelling the inclusion of research in decision making and showcasing positive attitudes towards research.9,10 Practitioners should be supported to know that using research will help them provide higher quality services.4 Checking in with practitioners about how they made case decisions and how they incorporated relevant research is also an effective strategy.11 In addition, nominating evidence champions within organisations who access and share relevant research with colleagues and actively promote evidence-informed practice has been proven to aid research uptake.9,12

3. Training and skill development

Developing the motivation and skills to review and use research is important in team and organisational environments when using an evidence-informed approach to practice.6,13 This includes knowing where to find the evidence, understanding the uses of research and research types, and building skills to assess and apply the findings.11


Organisations play an important role in supporting their practitioners to use research in practice for improved outcomes for children and families. Embedding research into processes and strategies, providing intentional positive leadership in using research and supporting training in how to use research are effective ways organisations can create a culture for research use.


1. French, B., Thomas, L. H., Baker, P., Burton, C. R., Pennington, L., & Roddam, H. (2009). What can management theories offer evidence-based practice? A comparative analysis of measurement tools for organisational context. Implementation Science, 4(1), 28. doi:10.1186/1748-5908-4-28

2. Baillie, L., Carrick-Sen, D., Marland, A., & Keil, M. F. (2019). Research and evidence-based practice: The nurse’s role. In S. Llahana, C. Follin, C. Yedinak & A. Grossman (Eds.), Advanced Practice in Endocrinology Nursing (pp. 1321–1337). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

3. Breckton, J. (2016). Using Research Evidence: A Practice Guide. London: Nesta (Alliance for Useful Evidence). Retrieved from

4. Gray, M., Joy, E., Plath, D., & Webb, S. A. (2015). What supports and impedes evidence-based practice implementation? A survey of Australian social workers. British Journal of Social Work, 45, 667–684.

5. Oliver, K., Innvar, S., Lorenc, T., Woodman, J., & Thomas, J. (2014). A systematic review of barriers to and facilitators of the use of evidence by policymakers. BMC Health Services Research, 14(1), 2. doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-2

6. Tricco, A. C., Cardoso, R., Thomas, S. M., Motiwala, S., Sullivan, S., Kealey, M. R. et al. (2016). Barriers and facilitators to uptake of systematic reviews by policy makers and health care managers: A scoping review. Implementation Science, 11, 4. doi:10.1186/s13012-016-0370-1

7. Wallace, J., Byrne, C., & Clarke, M. (2014). Improving the uptake of systematic reviews: A systematic review of intervention effectiveness and relevance. BMJ Open, 4(10), e005834. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005834

8. Australian Institute of Family Studies. (2019). Scoping of future capacity-building activities – Families and Children Activity (Internal report). Melbourne, Vic.: AIFS.

9. Bazalgette, L. (2020). A practical guide for establishing an evidence centre. London: Nesta (Alliance for Useful Evidence). Retrieved from

10. van de Goor, I., Hämäläinen, R.-M., Syed, A., Juel Lau, C., Sandu, P., Spitters, H. et al. (2017). Determinants of evidence use in public health policy making: Results from a study across six EU countries. Health Policy, 121(3), 273–281. doi:10.1016/j.healthpol.2017.01.003

11. Kessler, M. L., Gira, E., & Poertner, J. (2005). Moving best practice to evidence-based practice in child welfare. Families in Society, 86(2), 244–250.

12. College of Policing. (2020). Evidence champions network. Retrieved from

13. Langer, L., Tripney, J., & Gough, D. (2016). The science of using science: Researching the use of research evidence in decision-making. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education, University College London. Retrieved from