Evidence-based social work
A guide for the perplexed
By Tony Newman, Alice Moseley, Stephanie Tierney and Annemarie Ellis

Do you want to:
  • base your practice on the best possible evidence of effectiveness?
  • know how to find information relevant to your decision making?
  • be able to tell the difference between stronger and weaker evidence?
  • enable your clients to feel confident they are being served by a well informed professional?

  • If so, then you are working towards being an evidence-based social work practitioner. This book will help you to realise this aspiration. It contains valuable advice on how to:
  • formulate practice questions
  • find information which can answer these questions
  • appraise the information for trustworthiness and relevance
  • build this process into your practice on a regular basis.

    Evidence-Based Social Work is specifically aimed at professionally qualified practitioners and students. It is relevant to all areas of social work practice, and addresses key aspects of the new three-year social work training programme. Many of the procedures and principles discussed will also be of relevance to the broader social care workforce, and to those in allied professions.

    The book is written in a direct, user-friendly style, and includes many practical examples and case studies. The authors explain why evidence-based practice is important to people who depend on social care services, discussing in stages the skills needed to practice effectively. It is an eminently accessible and practical introduction on how an evidence-based approach to social work can become a reality.

    This is a resource aimed not only at explaining the what of evidence-based practice, or the why, but also the how. Having read it, you should be clearer about what evidence-based practice is, why it is essential to effective and ethical social care, and how you can carry it out on a day to day basis.

    As the Director of UK Services at Barnardo's, Dr. Chris Hanvey, and the Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Social Services at the University of Exeter, Professor Brian Sheldon say in their joint foreword: "Now we have a book which not only explains evidence-based social work but illustrates its importance in improving outcomes for those with whom we work. The authors' achievement is to have combined the best, that is, the most robust and bias-reducing research with a detailed knowledge of the demanding challenges of day-to-day practice. We regard this book as an essential guide to the practicalities of evidence-based practice, and we hope that practitioners and students snap it up."

    Paperback. 192 pages. 978-1-903855-55-3. Published 2005. £17.95.


    Qualified social workers, social work students and other social care staff who wish to learn more about evidence-based practice. The principles discussed will also be useful for those working in allied professions.


    Introducing evidence-based practice
    Locating evidence: finding what matters, and not finding what doesn't
    Critical appraisal: sorting the wheat from the chaff.
    Understanding statistics: a gentle guide to numbers and what they mean
    Service users and evidence-based practice
    Staying research minded - implementing evidence-based practice


    Tony Newman
    is Principal Research Officer with Barnardo's. He is author of Children of Disabled Parents, published by Russell House in 2003.

    Alice Moseley and Stephanie Tierney are both researchers and trainers at the Centre for Evidence-Based Social Services at the University of Exeter.

    Annemarie Ellis is a research fellow at the Centre, and a research facilitator at Mid-Devon Primary Care Research Group.


    "This is a seriously important book… The signs are clear. Woolly ideology in the caring professions that well-meaning people must be making a difference as long as they care, is not good enough. Those in need have a right to know that the help they receive is more likely to help their problem rather than harm, and government and others will only pay for interventions that are likely to make a positive difference. But what actually is evidence based social work? This book is right to identify that the new movement is perplexing. Written in an easy-to-read style this book makes the inaccessible, accessible. How do you find the evidence, what matters and what doesn't? With the many research findings how do you sort the wheat from the chaff? How do you make sense of the statistics. The answers are all in this excellent book. I strongly recommend it." Ann Buchanan, University of Oxford.

    "Written in plain English… this book illustrates how evidence-based social work can be put into practice, and how it improves outcomes for those with whom we work." Professional Social Work.

    "Common sense, plain speaking style, well suited to a topic that is often drowned in jargon… an intelligent and reflective book that makes a major contribution to demystifying evidence-based policy and practice." Mike Fisher, SCIE.

    "A book for the busy practitioner and others, which is rigorous, relevant and readable. Full of easy to assimilate, well-expressed argument and poignant examples it has a practical immediacy which keeps the pages turning." Ray Jones, Director of Adult & Community Services, Wiltshire.

    "A mine of much-needed, well-written help… For reading from front to back, or for dipping into; for all social workers - whether you want to 'get going' or refine your understanding and skills." Celia Atherton, Director, Research in Practice.