Research and Evidence-Based Practice
There is an increasing expectation from service commissioners and other stakeholders that childcare practice is evidence-based. This expectation chimes with another important societal change; the shrinking confidence in and willingness to rely on “experts”. Evidence-based choices are also ethical; young people have a right to optimal services and that requires evidence of impact and outcomes. Evidence also helps development of truly effective interventions.
Sackett (1996) claimed that “the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individuals….means integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research”. In line with a strengths-based perspective, the person’s own experience and expertise in their own lives could be added to this widely accepted definition of evidence-based practice.
Research is crucial to developing an evidence-based approach. Many people are aware that “no evidence for” something is not the same as “evidence against”. Non-evidence based methods may work, but no-one has collected the evidence. Sometimes this is a shame, and good ideas can be lost in the growing expectation that, rightly, helping interventions will be rooted in evidence.
This dilemma needs addressing; we need to study a phenomenon to learn about it. Many people working in therapeutic care are experienced recipients of research. They frequently ask questions, listen and record answers as part of their daily professional task. They are used to observation and to analysing and evaluating data. These are the building blocks of research. At the heart of social research is the ability to develop new or better ways of practicing and to bring about change in organisations and in professional practice; to focus in a scholarly way on what is professionally significant and to consider these significant things in innovative, creative and imaginative ways.
Chris Taylor is currently involved in researching the prevalence and psychological treatment of adolescent borderline personality disorder as his Doctoral study with Glyndwr University.
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