Empirically supported practice or evidence-based interventions? A review of the last fifty yearsedit
The movement to utilize evidence-based practices within the social work profession began in the late 1950’s. Initially known as the empirical practice movement, today it is called evidence based or research based practice. Improved understandings of foundations of social work practice as well as advances in research methods and technology have contributed to the flourishing of this movement. However, critics argue that this movement incorporates deterministic and often rigid practices. Are these efforts genuinely aimed at improving empirically based practices or is social work simply continuing its mission to justify itself as a profession? Who decides what is evidence based practice and who are the stakeholders? Where do practitioners and their rich history of practice wisdom fit in the scheme of things? This article explores the history and rationale of this movement, discusses pressures to utilize evidence-based practice, and examines whom actually benefits. While there is suggestion of forces beyond best practices that are contributing to this movement, it appears that the social work profession 19 remains mired in its quest to prove itself a profession, perhaps at the expense of the values that have been the foundation of the profession since its inception.