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Social Work

Social Work Library Guide

Critical Appraisal

Critically appraising articles is vital to evaluating best practice for your population. There are many resources and checklists that can be used to critically appraise for clinical significance such as these CASP Checklists.

Common questions to ask when critically appraising an article:

  • Was the sample size large enough to generalize the results?
  • Are the results statistically significant?
  • Are the results clinically significant? (Look at the confidence intervals in the article).
  • Did the authors address potential bias in the study?
  • Did the researchers identify confounding variables? How did they control for this?

In addition to appraising the research methodology and quality of the article, social workers should also consider the clinical application to their individual client and client population. Below are some questions to ask before, while, and after reading articles.

Before reading

  • Do I know my client’s history, culture, priorities?
  • Am I making assumptions?
  • Am I using an accurate search strategy to describe the context and history of my clients’ problems?  (e.g., “racism AND health”or “structural racism AND mental health” or “racial discrimination AND mental health”)
  • Am I adequately prepared to assess the research?
  • Am I using a broad range of knowledge sources and strategies for ways of knowing about a client?
  • Do I want this to be true? (This question helps you identify your own bias).

During reading

  • Am I documenting questions that arise?
  • Is the client’s experience reflected in the research?
  • Am I noting any structural racism or health inequities in the practices proposed in this article?
  • Does the intervention include any internalized scripts of racial, gender or other superiority and inferiority?
  • Are there cultural or power contexts that need to be considered?

After reading

  • Am I using multiple perspectives/disciplines to better understand the problem?
  • Do I still need to know more about the language, customs, history or context to better understand the problem?
  • If I act on the evidence, am I contributing to dismantling structural racism, power inequities?
  • If I move forward with these practices am I contributing to create conditions where my client can thrive?

Library Databases for Evidence-Based Research

These databases are either solely evidence-based or at least allow for limiting to evidence-based articles.

Evidence-Based Practice Websites with Free Content

For more evidence-based websites see the following lists:

EBP Books in the Library

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has proven to be the most effective form of treatment for social anxiety disorder. This revision of a highly regarded treatment manual presents an original treatment approach that includes specifically designed interventions to strengthen the relevant CBT strategies.

Outpatient Treatment of Psychosis

This book offers a practitioner's guide to evidence-based practice in working with psychotic patients in an outpatient setting by clinicians and scholars who are internationally recognized for their work in treating severe psychopathology.

Client-Centered Evaluating

This highly accessible evaluation text encourages students to evaluate their practice from multiple points of view, without the use of statistics. It encourages the client's active participation in evaluation by asking: "Are these the results you wanted in resolving your concern?" and builds on single-case design.

Critical Thinking in Clinical Practice

The knowledge and skills of critical thinking, evidence-based practice, problem solving, judgment, and decision making are essential to effectively serve clients in all types of clinical practices. This book teaches clinicians and students how to avoid fallacies and biases in thinking as well as the skills to make well-informed, ethical decisions.

A Guide to Treatments That Work

A Guide to Treatments That Work offers detailed chapters that review the latest research on pharmacological and psychosocial treatments that work for the full range of psychiatric and psychological disorders, written in most instances by clinical psychologists and psychiatrists who have been major contributors to that literature.

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

Written by a proven author and top scholar in research methods, 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 best client care.