What Does Social Work Have to Offer Evidence-based Practice?

Ethics and Social Welfare 3 (1):18-31 (2009)
Abstract
Evidence-based practice (EBP) is a relatively recent incarnation in social work's long history of valuing evidence as a basis for practice. Few argue with the ethics and usefulness of grounding practice in empirically tested interventions. Critics of EBP instead focus on how it is defined and implemented. Critiques include what counts as evidence, who makes decisions regarding research agendas and processes, and the lack of attention to context. This essay reflects on such critiques and suggests that social work, as a profession that values human diversity, equality, and self-determination, is well situated to shed light on such debates about EBP. As a profession that supports a person-in-environment perspective, we must examine not only the theory but the practice of EPB in academic, institutional, and societal settings. It is also argued that, owing to our professional mission, it is not enough to acknowledge the risk of oppression and harm; we are obligated to take them seriously and include such potential for harm in our assessment of so-called best practices
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