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The first steps toward narrowing the gap between research and practice are recognizing that one exists andeducating oneself and others. Social workers must realize the benefits and eliminate the misconceptions surrounding evidence-based practice. In the Bradley episode featured in the resources, the social worker combines her assessment of Tiffani Bradley’s individual situation with her knowledge of research to evaluate her supervisor’s recommended intervention. Now that the social worker has recognized a gap, she/he/they need to access potentially relevant information for a specific case and critically analyze for its applicability to that case. This week’s Assignment allows you to practice these critical next steps in the Bradley family case.To prepare for this Assignment, review Episode 4 of the Bradley family case study. Develop a list with 2–3 researchable questions that you could use to find evidence about the efficacy of 12-step programs or other treatments for substance abuse in adolescents. Then, using the resources provided, search for two evidence-based interventions that would be appropriate for Tiffani Bradley. Be sure to consider quality of research, readiness for dissemination, replications, and costs.Submit a 2- to 3-page paper that includes the following: (Please be very detailed in response, use 3 APA references, and use sub-headings in responses)Summaries of the two interventions and their respective research regarding effectiveness.Recommendations for Tiffani’s social worker that address the following:Factors to consider when choosing between the two interventionsThe social work skills that the staff would require to implement the interventionThe training required to implement each interventionAn evaluation of evidenced-based practice based on your reaction to the experience, in which you address the following questions:Appropriate APA citations in your writingReferenceLaureate Education (Producer). (2013a). Bradley family episode 4 [Video file]. In Sessions. Retrieved from


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Bradley Family Episode 4
Bradley Family Episode 4
Program Transcript
FEMALE SPEAKER: I know it’s here somewhere. I was just looking at it. Ah.
Here it is. Tiffany says that over the last several years she’s used crack, meth,
oxy, marijuana. Here. The list goes on.
FEMALE SPEAKER: Well, is she attending NA yet?
FEMALE SPEAKER: I’ve been hesitant to have her do that.
FEMALE SPEAKER: Well, she already has her hands full. Three rests in two
years, emotional and physical abuse growing up, and she still isn’t free of her
pimp. It’s just a lot to ask of her to also start going to NA, especially since we
really don’t know how effective those 12-step programs really are.
FEMALE SPEAKER: What do you mean?
FEMALE SPEAKER: I don’t know if I’ve seen any research to support it. Have
FEMALE SPEAKER: You have to be kidding. 12-step programs are the gold
FEMALE SPEAKER: But the research-FEMALE SPEAKER: Look at the drugs she’s been abusing. You’re telling me this
doesn’t make her a candidate for the primary approach for treating addiction?
You can supplement it with other approaches, but the 12-step program is the
foundation for everything else.
FEMALE SPEAKER: I don’t agree. I think some of this depends on the client.
And in Tiffany’s case, the research-FEMALE SPEAKER: No. You’re not hearing me. Research and practice are two
very different things. I think you should get Tiffany into NA. And do it soon.
Bradley Family Episode 4
Additional Content Attribution
Music by Clean Cuts
©2013 Laureate Education, Inc.
Bradley Family Episode 4
Original Art and Photography Provided By:
Brian Kline and Nico Danks
©2013 Laureate Education, Inc.
Evidence‐based programs:
An overview
University of Wisconsin–Madison and University of Wisconsin–Extension
In recent years, there has been increased pressure from funding agencies and
federal, state and local governments for greater effectiveness and accountability
of prevention and intervention programs. This rising demand for program
quality, and evidence of that quality, has fueled a growing interest in evidence‐
based programs (EBPs). However, there remains some confusion about what
constitutes an EBP, whether some EBPs are better than others, and the advantages
and disadvantages of implementing EBPs. In this Research to Practice brief, we
provide an overview of what it means for a program to be evidence‐based, discuss
the advantages and disadvantages of implementing EBPs, and point readers in the
direction of resources to help locate these programs and learn more about them.
What are evidence‐based programs?
A growing body of research in the social and behavioral sciences has demonstrated that
certain approaches and strategies for working with youth and their families can positively
impact important social problems such as delinquency, teen pregnancy, substance abuse and
family violence. Many of these effective approaches and strategies have been packaged into
programs targeting outcomes specific to individuals, schools, families, and communities.
Those programs that have been found to be effective based on the results of rigorous evaluations
are often called “evidence‐based.”
An important element of EBPs is that they have
been evaluated rigorously in experimental or
quasi‐experimental studies (see box on this
Not only are the results of these evaluations
important, but it is also essential that the
evaluations themselves have been subjected to
critical peer review. That is, experts in the field
– not just the people who developed and
evaluated the program – have examined the
evaluation’s methods and agreed with its
conclusions about the program’s effects. Thus,
EBPs often have evaluation findings published
in peer‐reviewed scientific journals.
The importance of rigorous evaluation
A rigorous evaluation typically involves either an
experimental design (like that used in randomized
controlled trials) or a quasi‐experimental design. In an
experimental design, people are randomly assigned to either
the treatment group, which participates in the program, or
the control group, which does not. After the program is
completed, the outcomes of these two groups are
compared. This type of research design helps ensure that
any observed differences in outcomes between the two
groups are the result of the program and not other factors.
Given that randomization is not always possible, a quasi‐
experimental design is sometimes used. In evaluations using
this design, the program participants are compared to a
group of people similar in many ways to the program
participants. However, because a quasi‐experimental
design does not randomly assign participants to program
and non‐program groups, it is not as strong a design as the
experimental approach. Because there may be unobserved
differences between the two groups of people who are
being compared, this design does not allow program
evaluators to conclude with the same certainty that the
program itself was responsible for the impacts observed.
Most programs have evaluation evidence from less
rigorous studies. Evaluations that do not include any type
of comparison group, for example, do not allow for any
conclusions to be made about whether the changes seen in
program participants are related to or caused by the
program. These studies sometimes show the promise of
positive results, but they do not allow the program to be
classified as evidence‐based. Programs with evidence from
less rigorous studies are often referred to as “promising”
Evidence‐based programs: An overview
What Works, Wisconsin – Research to Practice Series, #6
When a program has sufficient peer‐
reviewed, empirical evidence for its
effectiveness, its developer will typi‐
cally submit it to certain federal
agencies and respected research
organizations for consideration. These
organizations “certify” or “endorse”
programs by including them in their
official lists of effective programs.
This lets others in the field know the
program meets certain standards of
effectiveness. (See Appendix A for
examples of these organizations.)
Simply put, a program is judged to be
evidence‐based if (a) evaluation re‐
search shows that the program pro‐
duces the expected positive results;
(b) the results can be attributed to the
program itself, rather than to other
extraneous factors or events; (c) the
evaluation is peer‐reviewed by
experts in the field; and (d) the
program is “endorsed” by a federal
organization and included in their list
of effective programs.
Given this definition of an EBP, it is
important to distinguish the term
“evidence‐based” from “research‐
description of how most, if not all,
EBPs were developed based on years
of scientific research on what program
components, such as content and
activities, are likely to work for youth
and families. Because EBPs contain program
components with solid empirical bases, they can
safely be called “research‐based” programs.
However, the reverse is not true. Not all, or
even the majority, of research‐based programs
fit the definition of an EBP. Just because a
program contains research‐based content or was
guided by research‐based information, doesn’t
mean it has been proven effective. Unless it also
has scientific evidence that it works, it is
incorrect to call it “evidence‐based.”
Are some evidence‐based
programs better than others?
Programs that meet the definition of evidence‐
based are not all similarly effective or equally
likely to work in a given community.
For example, some EBPs have been evaluated
rigorously in several large‐scale evaluations that
follow participants for a long period of time.
Others have only undergone one or two less
rigorous evaluations (for example, those using
the quasi‐experimental design described on
page 2). Those programs that are shown to be
effective multiple times in experimental studies
are generally considered to be of a higher
successfully replicated and evaluated in a
variety of settings with a range of different
audiences. Others have only been evaluated
with a particular audience in a certain
geographical area, for example. When a
program has been shown to be effective in
different settings and with different audiences,
it is more likely that it will be effective when
implemented elsewhere.
Evidence‐based programs: An overview
What Works, Wisconsin – Research to Practice Series, #6
Finally, EBPs can vary in the strength of their
effects. For example, one program may have
evidence that it reduces delinquent acts in its
participants by 10 percent over the subsequent
year, while another program has evidence of
reducing delinquency by 20 or 25 percent.
Generally, those programs that consistently pro‐
duce a greater effect than other programs are
thought to be better programs.
Thus, the level of evidence for effectiveness
varies across programs, and practitioners must
use a critical eye when judging where on the
continuum of effectiveness a program lies.
Advantages of evidence‐based
There are numerous merits to adopting and
implementing EBPs. First, utilizing an EBP in‐
creases the odds that the program will work as
intended and that the public good will be
enhanced. There is also greater efficiency in
using limited resources on what has been proven
to work as compared to what people think will
work or what has traditionally been done.
Instead of putting resources toward program
development, organizations can select from the
growing number of EBPs, which are not only
known to be effective but also often offer well‐
packaged program materials, staff training, and
technical assistance. Using EBPs where
appropriate can thus be viewed as a responsible
and thoughtful use of limited resources.
The proven effectiveness that underlies EBPs
can help secure resources and support from
funding agencies and other stakeholders, such
as policy makers, community leaders, and
Increasingly, funders and policy makers are
recommending, if not requiring, that EBPs be
used to qualify for their financial support.
Additionally, the demonstrated effectiveness of
these programs can facilitate community buy‐in
and the recruitment and retention of program
A final benefit of EBPs is that they may have
cost‐benefit information available. This type of
information helps to convey the potential eco‐
nomic savings that can accrue when funds are
invested in a program. Cost‐benefit information
can be very influential in an era where
accountability and economic factors often drive
public policy and funding decisions.
Disadvantages of evidence‐based
Despite the numerous advantages of EBPs,
there are some limitations that are important to
consider. A major constraint is the financial
resources needed to adopt and implement them.
Most EBPs are developed, copyrighted, and
sold at rather substantial costs. Program
designers often require that organizations
purchase curricula and other specially
developed program materials, that staff attend
specialized training, and that program
facilitators hold certain degrees or certifications.
Furthermore, EBPs are often intended to be im‐
plemented exactly as designed, allowing little
room for local adaptation.
Finally, organizations sometimes find that there
are few or no EBPs that are both well‐suited to
meet the needs of targeted audiences and
appropriate for their organization and local
community setting. This situation is especially
common when it comes to the promotion of
positive outcomes rather than the prevention of
negative ones. Because the development of
many EBPs was sponsored by federal agencies
concerned with addressing specific problems,
such as substance abuse, mental illness,
Evidence‐based programs: An overview
What Works, Wisconsin – Research to Practice Series, #6
violence, or delinquency, there currently exist
many more problem‐focused EBPs than ones
designed specifically to promote positive
developmental outcomes like school success or
social responsibility.
Where to find evidence‐based
Practitioners looking for an EBP to implement
in their community or learn more about these
programs will find the Internet to be their most
useful resource. As mentioned earlier, a number
of federal agencies and respected research
organizations “certify” or “endorse” programs
that meet the organizations’ specified standards
for effectiveness. Many of these agencies have
established on‐line registries, of lists of EBPs
that they have identified as effective. While
there are some differences in the standards used
by various organizations to assess whether a
program should be endorsed and thus included
on their registry, most share the primary criteria
regarding the need for strong empirical
evidence of program effectiveness.
Organizations that endorse EBPs typically limit
such endorsements, and thus their program
registry, to those programs that have shown an
impact on specific outcomes of interest to the
organization. For example, programs listed on
the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
Prevention’s Model Programs Guide have all
been shown to have an impact on juvenile
delinquency or well‐known precursors to
As previously mentioned, because the
development of many EBPs was funded by
federal agencies focused on specific problems,
most existing registries of EBPs are problem‐
oriented. Occasionally, EBPs are categorized
according to a strengths‐based orientation and
address outcomes related to positive youth
development, academic achievement, school
readiness and family strengthening.
While registries of EBPs are usually organized
around the particular outcomes the programs
have been found to impact, many programs,
especially those focused on primary prevention,
often have broader effects than this pattern
would suggest. Many EBPs have been found to
be effective for reducing multiple problems and
promoting a number of positive outcomes. For
example, a parenting program that successfully
promotes effective parenting practices may not
only reduce the likelihood of particular
problems such as drug abuse or aggression, but
may also promote a variety of positive
outcomes like academic success or stronger
parent‐child relationships. For this reason, you
will often see the same program appear on
multiple registries that focus on different types
of outcomes.
Now, more than ever, practitioners have
available to them a wealth of EBPs that build on
the best available research on what works.
Unfortunately, they are currently underused
and often not well‐understood. Although EBPs
do have some limitations, they can contribute to
a comprehensive approach to preventing a
range of social and health‐related problems and
enhancing the well‐being of individuals,
families and communities.
This is one of a series of Research to Practice briefs prepared by the What Works, Wisconsin team at the
University of Wisconsin–Madison, School of Human Ecology, and Cooperative Extension, University of
Wisconsin–Extension. All of the briefs can be downloaded from
This series expands upon ideas that are discussed in What Works, Wisconsin: What Science Tells Us about
Cost‐Effective Programs for Juvenile Delinquency Prevention, which is also available for download at the
web address above.
This publication may be cited without permission provided the source is identified as: Cooney, S.M.,
Huser, M., Small, S., & O’Connor, C. (2007). Evidence‐based programs: An overview. What Works,
Wisconsin Research to Practice Series, 6. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin–Madison/Extension.
This project was supported, in part, by Grant Award No. JF‐04‐PO‐0025 awarded by the Wisconsin
Office of Justice Assistance through the Wisconsin Governor’s Juvenile Justice Commission with funds
from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Evidence‐based programs: An overview
What Works, Wisconsin – Research to Practice Series, #6
Appendix A
Evidence‐based program registries
The following websites contain registries, or lists of evidence‐based programs, that have met specific criteria
for effectiveness. Program registries are typically sponsored by federal agencies or other research organiza‐
tions that endorse programs at different rating levels based on evidence of effectiveness for certain participant
outcomes. The registries listed below cover a range of areas including substance abuse and violence preven‐
tion as well as the promotion of positive outcomes such as school success and emotional and social compe‐
tence. Generally, registries are designed to be used for finding programs for implementation. However,
registries can also be used to learn about evidence‐based programs that may serve as models as organizations
modify aspects of their own programs.
Best Practices Registry for Suicide Prevention
This registry, developed by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) and the American Foundation for
Suicide Prevention, includes two registries of evidence‐based programs. The first draws directly from a larger
registry‐ that of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Registry of
Evidence‐Based Programs and Practices (NREPP). Users interested in finding out more about programs
drawn from this registry will be directed to the NREPP site. The second registry was developed by SPRC in
2005 and lists Effective and Promising evidence‐based programs for suicide prevention. This portion has fact
sheets in PDF format for users interested in learning more about the listed programs.
Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, Blueprints for Violence Prevention
This research center site provides information on model programs in its “Blueprints” section. Programs that
meet a strict scientific standard of program effectiveness are listed. These model programs (Blueprints) have
demonstrated their effectiveness in reducing adolescent violent crime, aggression, delinquency, and sub‐
stance abuse. Other programs have been identified as promising programs. Endorsements are updated
regularly, with programs added to and excluded from the registry based on new evaluation findings.
The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)
The Safe and Sound report developed at CASEL lists school‐based programs that research has indicated are
effective in promoting social and emotional learning in schools. This type of learning has been shown to con‐
tribute to positive youth development, academic achievement, healthy behaviors, and reductions in youth
problem behaviors. Ratings are given on specific criteria for all programs listed, with some designated
“Select” programs. This registry has not been updated since programs were reviewed in 2003.
Evidence‐based programs: An overview – Appendix A
What Works, Wisconsin – Research to Practice Series, #6
Exemplary and Promising Safe, Disciplined and Drug‐Free Schools Programs
The Department of Education and the Expert Panel on Safe, Disciplined and Drug‐Free Schools identified
nine exemplary and 33 promising programs for this 2001 report. The report, which can be found at this site,
provides descriptions and contact …
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