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Practitioner's Guide to Using Research for Evidence-Based Practice

ISBN: 978-1-118-04510-7
360 pages
January 2011
Written by a top scholar in the field, Practitioner's Guide to Using Research for Evidence-Based Practice gives essential and practical guidance on how to integrate research appraisal into evidence-based practice endeavors to ensure the best client care. This reader-friendly book presents you with the knowledge you need about various research designs and methods so that when engaging in the evidence-based practice (EBP) process, you can determine which interventions, programs, policies, and assessment tools are supported by the best evidence.
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Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xix


Chapter 1 Introduction to Evidence-Based Practice 3

Emergence of Evidence-Based Practice 5

Defining Evidence-Based Practice 6

Evidence-Based Practice Is Not Restricted to Clinical Decisions 11

Developing an Evidence-Based Practice Process Outlook 11

Easier Said than Done 15

Key Chapter Concepts 16

Review Exercises 17

Additional Readings 18

Chapter 2 Steps in the EBP Process 19

Step 1: Question Formulation 19

Step 2: Evidence Search 20

An Internet Search Using Google Scholar and PsycINFO 23

Step 3: Critically Appraising Studies and Reviews 27

Step 4: Selecting and Implementing the Intervention 28

The Importance of Practice Context: A Policy Example 29

Step 5: Monitor Client Progress 32

Feasibility Constraints 32

Key Chapter Concepts 35

Review Exercises 36

Additional Readings 37

Chapter 3 Research Hierarchies 38

More Than One Type of Hierarchy for More than One Type of EBP Question 39

Qualitative and Quantitative Studies 41

Types of EBP Questions 42

Key Chapter Concepts 56

Review Exercises 57

Additional Readings 58


Chapter 4 Criteria for Inferring Effectiveness 61

Internal Validity 62

Measurement Issues 68

Statistical Chance 72

External Validity 78

Synopses of Research Studies 80

Key Chapter Concepts 82

Review Exercises 83

Additional Readings 84

Chapter 5 Critically Appraising Experiments 85

Classic Pretest-Posttest Control Group Design 86

Posttest-Only Control Group Design 89

Solomon Four-Group Design 90

Alternative Treatment Designs 92

Dismantling Designs 93

Placebo Control Group Designs 94

Experimental Demand and Experimenter Expectancies 96

Obtrusive versus Unobtrusive Observation 98

Compensatory Equalization and Compensatory Rivalry 98

Resentful Demoralization 99

Treatment Diffusion 99

Treatment Fidelity 101

Practitioner Equivalence 101

Differential Attrition 103

Synopses of Research Studies 105

Key Chapter Concepts 107

Review Exercises 108

Additional Readings 109

Chapter 6 Critically Appraising Quasi-Experiments: Nonequivalent Comparison Groups Designs 110

Nonequivalent Comparison Groups Designs 111

Additional Logical Arrangements to Control for Potential Selectivity Biases 113

Statistical Controls for Potential Selectivity Biases 118

Pilot Studies 123

Synopses of Research Studies 126

Key Chapter Concepts 128

Review Exercises 128

Additional Readings 129

Chapter 7 Critically Appraising Quasi-Experiments: Time-Series Designs and Single-Case Designs 130

Simple Time-Series Designs 131

Multiple Time-Series Designs 134

Single-Case Designs 135

Synopses of Research Studies 144

Key Chapter Concepts 148

Review Exercises 149

Additional Reading 150

Chapter 8 Critically Appraising Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses 151

Advantages of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses 152

Risks in Relying Exclusively on Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses 154

Where to Start 154

What to Look for When Critically Appraising Systematic Reviews 155

What Distinguishes a Systematic Review from Other Types of Reviews? 161

What to Look for When Critically Appraising Meta-Analyses 162

Synopses of Research Studies 174

Key Chapter Concepts 176

Review Exercises 178

Additional Readings 178


Chapter 9 Critically Appraising Nonexperimental Quantitative Studies 181

Surveys 182

Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Studies 193

Case-Control Studies 195

Synopses of Research Studies 197

Key Chapter Concepts 201

Review Exercises 203

Additional Readings 203

Chapter 10 Critically Appraising Qualitative Studies 204

Qualitative Observation 205

Qualitative Interviewing 208

Qualitative Sampling 211

Grounded Theory 212

Frameworks for Appraising Qualitative Studies 213

Synopses of Research Studies 218

Key Chapter Concepts 223

Review Exercises 227

Additional Readings 228


Chapter 11 Critically Appraising and Selecting Assessment Instruments 231

Reliability 232

Validity 236

Sensitivity 241

Feasibility 244

Sample Characteristics 245

Locating Assessment Instruments 246

Synopses of Research Studies 248

Key Chapter Concepts 250

Review Exercises 252

Additional Readings 252

Chapter 12 Monitoring Client Progress 253

A Practitioner-Friendly Design 255

Feasible Assessment Techniques 258

Summary 268

Looking Ahead 270

Key Chapter Concepts 272

Review Exercises 273

Additional Reading 273

Appendix A Critical Appraisals of Study Synopses at the End of Chapter 4 274

Appendix B Critical Appraisals of Study Synopses at the End of Chapter 5 277

Appendix C Critical Appraisals of Study Synopses at the End of Chapter 6 280

Appendix D Critical Appraisals of Study Synopses at the End of Chapter 7 283

Appendix E Critical Appraisals of Study Synopses at the End of Chapter 8 285

Appendix F Critical Appraisals of Study Synopses at the End of Chapter 9 288

Appendix G Critical Appraisals of Study Synopses at the End of Chapter 10 292

Appendix H Critical Appraisals of Study Synopses at the End of Chapter 11 295

Glossary 299

References 313

Index 319

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ALLEN RUBIN, PhD, teaches in the School of Social Work at the University of Texas, Austin. He is world-renowned for his work in research methods and clinical practice and served as president of the Society of Social Work and Research from 1998-2000. He is the recipient of the Council on Social Work Education 2007 Significant Lifetime Achievement in Social Work Education Award.
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  • Provides professionals in the field, graduate and undergraduate readers across the helping professions with the step- by- step skills they need to effectively appraise and use research as part of the evidence-based practice(EBP) process.
  • Presents readers with essential knowledge about various research designs and methods so that when engaging in the EBP process they can:

-Determine which interventions and assessment tools are supported by best evidence.
-Find and critically appraise both qualitative and quantitative research studies in seeking evidence to answer different kinds of EBP questions.
-Differentiate between acceptable limitations and fatal flaws in judging whether or not studies at various positions on alternative research hierarchies,   (depending on the EBP question being asked), merit being used in guiding their practice.
-Assess treatment progress with chosen interventions in a feasible manner as part of the final stage of evidence-based practice.

  • Illustrates how to measure treatment progress and outcomes--A must-have skill in today's third party practice environments.
  • Two synopses of research studies germane to chapters 4-11 are offered  as learning exercises at the end of those chapters.  Readers are invited to critically appraise each of the synopses--their strengths, reasonable and fatal flaws-- and indicate how this appraisal might guide their decisions about EBP.   The author then provides his own appraisals in concluding appendices A-H  for reader comparison.
  • Each chapter ends with a list of key chapter concepts, review exercises, and suggested readings.
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"I believe that clinicians of all experience levels would do well to read this book. While some of the topics may be familiar to recent graduates, a review of the techniques for critically assessing research can never be anything but beneficial. Rubin's use of personal examples from his own clinical work brings the area into the real world. In addition, readers should find his inclusion of synopses, key chapter concepts, and exercises useful and informative." (PsycCritiques, August 2008)

"I particularly like the integration of research methods and EBP; this is the book’s major innovation in my mind as it allows readers to see the connections between research and practice. Rubin also succeeds by taking very complex EBP principles and explaining them in practical terms."
—Jeffrey M. Jenson, Ph.D., University of Denver, Graduate School of Social Work

"An extraordinary and important book. Its approach to evidence-based practice is very sound, realistic, and generous to the complexities of everyday practice. It provides an excellent practitioner’s desk book to students and professionals who want to implement evidence-based practice. Reading and using this book is a must."
—Haluk Soydan, Ph.D., University of Southern California, School of Social Work

"Rubin keeps the reader engaged in a topic that otherwise might have been less than exciting. This book is informative to old-timers like me and I would imagine to those new to the research enterprise and evidence-based practice. Allen Rubin has done it again! Another fine contribution to research and the advancement of evidence-based practice."
—Kevin Corcoran, Ph.D., J.D., Portland State University, School of Social Work

"This book has the potential to change practice in the helping professions. Rather than focusing on how to conduct research, the Practitioner’s Guide to Using Research for Evidence-Based Practice instead shows readers how to understand the literature....This is a monumental shift. Evidence-based practice requires the use of evidence, yet students often struggle with interpreting what they find in the literature and will sometimes give up on the entire process. Rubin solves this dilemma by giving us a comprehensive yet readable text for the uninitiated and he does so in a manner that may even engage the uninterested. In particular, his generous use of humor and the inclusion of simple, practice relevant examples make this book a pleasure to read for students at almost any level. Imagine laughing while learning what you need to know about research! I never thought I'd see the day."
—Aron Shlonsky, Ph.D., University of Toronto, Faculty of Social Work

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