Evidence-based Social Work

A Critical Stance

By Mel Gray, Debbie Plath, Stephen Webb

© 2009 – Routledge

220 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415468237
pub: 2009-05-11
US Dollars$51.95
Hardback: 9780415468220
pub: 2009-05-11
US Dollars$165.00

e–Inspection Copy

About the Book

Evidence-based practice is now a core element of many governments’ approaches to policy-making and social intervention. It has become a powerful movement that promises to change the content and structure of social work and its allied professions. Its emergence has generated much debate and raised challenging questions, however, particularly at the interface of research, policy, and practice.

This book provides a critical analysis of evidence-based practice in social work. It introduces readers to the fast changing research, policy, legislative, and practice context. It discusses what constitutes knowledge in social work, the values and beliefs that lie behind EBP and problems of implementation, formalisation and resource management. Reflecting on the challenges of transferring evidence-based practice to frontline social work practice, the authors argue that social work practice is not easily measured and systematised into best practice guidelines that disseminate proven diagnostic and effective intervention knowledge.

Using Actor Network Theory for the first time in the social work literature, Evidence-based Social Work illuminates how adopting the methodology and language of evidence-based practice fundamentally alters the conditions under which social work takes place. This book is vital reading for academics, practitioners, and students with an interest in contemporary social work practice and research.


'This is the first book on Evidence-based Practice to address issues with an international scope for those social work researchers, practitioners and educators who use the English language in their work. As such, it is truly ground breaking, and is certain to affect the practice and teaching of social workers around the world.' - Professor Joel Fischer, University of Hawai'i, USA

'Important, challenging, and provocative contribution to the debate on evidence-based social work… Critical stances offered by the authors will help proponents of EBSWP improve the approach. An actor network model to explore dimensions of EBSWP makes it exciting. Reading this book is a must.' - Dr Haluk Soydan, University of Southern California, USA

'This authoritative and timely book will be appreciated greatly by all students, teaching staff and practitioners who are concerned about evidence-based practice in social work.' - Professor Viviene E. Cree, University of Edinburgh, UK

'This new volume is a very useful contribution to the ongoing disciplinary-wide dialog of this remarkable new perspective on how to help practitioners make important decisions related to assessment and intervention.' - Professor Bruce A. Thyer, Florida State University, USA

Table of Contents

Contents: 1. Evidence: New Horizons in Social Work 2. The Evolution of Evidence-based Perspectives 3. What is Evidence-based Practice? 4. Framing the Knowledge base in Social Work 5. Just a Formality: Formalization and Standardization 6. Reality Check: Making Evidence a Reality 7. Tribunals of Reason: Directions for Evidence-based Practice?

About the Authors

Mel Gray is Professor of Social Work and a full-time researcher in the Institute for Social Well-being at the University of Newcastle, Australia.

Debbie Plath is Senior Lecturer in Social Work in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle, Australia.

Stephen A. Webb is Professor of Human Sciences and Director of the Institute for Social Well-being at the University of Newcastle, Australia.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General