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Evidence-Based Practice for Social Work

This guide shows how social work researchers can take advantage of resources from the library as well as free resources to track down the best evidence

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For more in-depth information or to schedule a research consultation, contact the SWreference group at:

Library Contact

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Jennifer Nason
Hatcher Graduate Library, Room 209

University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190


This guide was created by Darlene Nichols.

Definition of Evidence-Based Practice

Evidence-based practice (EBP) is not a catchphrase. It is not a cookie cutter approach to social work practice. It is a process which involves critical thinking and evaluation of information to determine the most effective and efficient treatment for your client or community. It is a three pronged approach, taking into consideration:

  • The practitioner's individual expertise
  • The client's values and expectations
  • The best evidence

Other Definitions of EBP

"Placing the client’s benefits first, evidence-based practitioners adopt a process of lifelong learning that involves continually posing specific questions of direct practical importance to clients, searching objectively and efficiently for the current best evidence relative to each question, and taking appropriate action guided by evidence." (Gibbs, 2003)


"EBP is a process in which the practitioner combines well-researched interventions with clinical experience, ethics, client preferences, and culture to guide and inform the delivery of treatments and services." (National Association of Social Workers)

Why Use It?

Other Guides to EBP