When Is Research Good Evidence? Issues in Reading Research

Jeane W. Anastas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although using published research is only one part of the evidence-based practice process, clinical social workers more often doubt their abilities in this area than in client assessment or in the individualizing of treatment approaches to fit client preferences, values and resources. This article reviews the nature of research and the reason it is often a preferred source of information; common flaws to watch for in published research; types of research studies and how different kinds of studies are viewed by those interested in treatment outcome research; and the elements of a published research report that must be considered when deciding on its usefulness for decision-making about practice. It will also include discussion of the controversies that surround these topics, which are significant. While readers will have been introduced to these topics in their professional education, when knowledge is not used it is often not well-remembered. Few clinicians find that reading, assessing, or conducting research is part of their daily work, which is one reason why the discussion of evidence-based practice and other approaches to the use of research in clinical practice can be anxiety-provoking. This "refresher" emphasizes that critical thinking skills, which clinicians often have in abundance, are the single most important element in using research to inform practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-115
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Social Work Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Clinical thinking
  • Evidence supported treatments
  • Reading research
  • Scientific thinking
  • Social work practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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