Overview of Evidence-Based Practice
Department of Social Work
Roberts Wesleyan College
What is the EBP Process?
EBP process involves 5 steps:
Converting the need for information into an answerable
Locating the best available evidence with which to answer
that question
Critically appraising that evidence for its validity, impact,
and applicability
Integrating the critical appraisal with professional expertise,
and with the client’s values and preferences
Evaluating effectiveness and efficiency in executing Steps 1
to 4 (Schlonsky & Gibbs, 2004)
Step 1: Answerable COPES Questions
(Gibbs, 2003)
The COPES question is one
that contains these
“Among adult criminal
offenders on probation,
will a group cognitive
intervention program
compared to no such
program result in a lower
recidivism (reoffense)
Step 2: Locating the Best Evidence
 EBP searching locates the best evidence in electronic
 “The essence of searching involves learning how to clarify
terms in a well-built COPES question that will effectively
mark documents in an electronic database” (p. 91).
 Search terms are systematically developed from the
COPES question.
 The choice of MOLES (methodology-oriented locators for
an evidence search) helps refine the search and find only
the most relevant evidence. Examples of MOLES include
the terms random*, controlled clinical trial*, control
group*, survey, and systematic review*.
(Gibbs, 2003)
Step 3: Evaluation of Research Evidence
 Research evidence may include:
 Individual outcome studies, program evaluations, metaanalyses, systematic reviews, case studies….and not all
evidence is created equal.
 This step involves making decisions about the quality
of the evidence uncovered in the search.
 There are different tools that are available to help
guide the process of reading and judging the quality
of research evidence. Some include:
Quality Study Rating Form (QSRF)
Client Assessment and Risk (CARE) Form
Multiple Evaluations for Treatment Assessment Form (META)
(Columbia University, 2005)
Step 4: Integrating Research With Practice
 Integration or applying the research to the practice
situation is the next step.
 In concrete terms, the practitioner must:
Identify implementation information about the intervention
Assess the fit between intervention and the client system
(values, preferences, expectations, and challenges)
Assess the fit between intervention and the professional’s
experience and skill (practice experience)
Communicate with the client system and key stakeholders
Collaboratively choose a path
Plan how to address key implementation factors
Evaluate the process and outcomes
(Danya International, 2008)
Step 5: Evaluation in EBP
 The evaluation of practice decision-making is an
essential component to evidence-based practice in
social work.
 Traditional research methods/designs are applied in
this step to evaluate the effectiveness of the EBP
 Thorough program evaluation can be conducted
through a single system design or evaluation
approaches that can systematically evaluate
interventions implemented with more than one
client by one or more practitioners.
(Danya International, 2008)
Columbia University. (2005). BEST Training, Module 7:
Evaluating the Evidence. Retrieved from
Danya International. (2008). Research and empirical
applications for curriculum enhancements in social work.
Silver Spring, MD: Author.
Gibbs. L. (2003). Evidence-based practice for the helping
professions: A practical guide with integrated multimedia.
Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole-Thomson Learning.
Shlonsky, A., & Gibbs, L. (2004). Will the real evidence-based
practice please stand up? Teaching the process of evidencebased practice to the helping professions. Brief Treatment
and Crisis Intervention, 4, 137-153.

Overview of Evidence-Based Practice