liu.seSearch for publications in DiVA
Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Ways of understanding evidence-based practice in social work: A qualitative study
Linköping University, HELIX Vinn Excellence Centre. Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education and Sociology. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6784-0133
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Community Medicine. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education and Adult Learning. Linköping University, Faculty of Educational Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5066-8728
2014 (English)In: British Journal of Social Work, ISSN 0045-3102, E-ISSN 1468-263X, Vol. 44, no 6, 1366-1383 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This qualitative, empirical study explores and describes the variation in how evidence-based practice (EBP) is understood in social work. A phenomenographic approach to design and analysis was applied. Fourteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with politicians, managers and executive staff in three social welfare offices in Sweden. The main findings suggest that there are qualitatively different ways in which EBP is understood, described in five categories: (i) fragmented; (ii) discursive; (iii) instrumental; (iv) multifaceted; and (v) critical. The outcome space is hierarchically structured with a logical relationship between the categories. However, the informants found it difficult to account for EBP, depending on what was expressed as deficient knowledge of EBP in the organisation, as well as ability to provide a seemly context for EBP. The results highlight the importance of acknowledging these differences in the organisation to compose a supportive atmosphere for EBP to thrive rather than merely assume the case of evidence-based social work. The categories can be utilised as stimuli for reflection in social work practice, and thereby provide the possibility to promote knowledge use and learning in the evolving evidence-based social work.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford, 2014. Vol. 44, no 6, 1366-1383 p.
Keyword [en]
EBP, evidence-based social work in Sweden, knowledge, learning, phenomenography
National Category
Social Work
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-87398DOI: 10.1093/bjsw/bcs198ISI: 000342988900002OAI: diva2:589253
Available from: 2013-01-17 Created: 2013-01-17 Last updated: 2015-06-02
In thesis
1. Evidence in Practice: On Knowledge Use and Learning in Social Work
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Evidence in Practice: On Knowledge Use and Learning in Social Work
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Evidens i praktiken : En studie kring kunskapsanvändning och lärande i socialt arbete
Abstract [en]

Against the backdrop of the transformations in the entire framing of professional work, social work has come under close scrutiny in many countries, including Sweden. Doubts have been raised about practitioners’ existing knowledge base, and the importance of practitioners engaging in learning and the renewal and extension of professional capacities has been emphasized.

The present thesis concerns knowledge use and learning in the daily practices of child investigation work. The aim is to explore processes of knowledge use and learning in practice. The study is based on a mix of qualitative approaches, basically from ethnography, comprising methods such as participant observations, interviews, reflective dialogues and documentary analysis of case data.

The main findings demonstrate that investigation work is characterized mainly by the use of practice-based knowledge. Research-based knowledge is predominantly used as a means of explaining a client’s situation or to underpin and legitimize one’s own beliefs and decisions made on other grounds. Professional learning is largely adaptive in character, as the social workers learn to handle tasks in a fairly routinized way on the basis of rules or procedures that draw on existing knowledge in the practice setting.

Two conclusions are drawn: First, the use of knowledge in child investigation work bears little resemblance to principles of evidence-based practice. Second, the reproduction of professional knowledge is largely implicit and taken for granted. The study offers insight into the much-discussed topic of putting knowledge into practice, which is of importance to strategies for organizing profes sional learning and knowledgeable practice.

Abstract [sv]

Ett i allt högre grad vetenskapsbaserat samhälle har lett till att kunskapsbasen i många verksamheter ifrågasatts, däribland socialt arbete. Avhandlingen behandlar kunskapsanvändning och lärande i utredningsarbetet inom den sociala barn- och ungdomsvården. Syfte är att öka kunskapen kring hur individer använder kunskap och lär sig i och genom sin dagliga praktik.

Avhandlingen baseras på fyra delstudier som genomförts i tre svenska kommuners socialtjänst. Det empiriska materialet består av deltagande observationer, intervjuer, reflekterande dialoger och dokumentanalyser. Studien tar sin utgångspunkt i ett kognitivt perspektiv på lärande med teoretiska rötter i pragmatism. Ett grundläggande antagande bakom studien är att lärandet utgår från hur individen tolkar och förstår den situation som hen möter och därefter handlar.

Resultaten visar att utredningsarbetet företrädesvis baseras på praktikbaserad kunskap som erhålls från tidigare erfarenheter och kollegor. Forskningsbaserad kunskap används huvudsakligen för att bekräfta och legitimera en uppfattning och inte för att ifrågasätta och utmana existerande åsikter och antaganden. Lärandet kan främst karaktäriseras som ett anpassningsinriktat lärande där praktikern med stöd i tidigare erfarenheter och utifrån befintlig kunskapsbas skapar rutiner för att hantera arbetet.

Kunskapsanvändningen inom den sociala barn- och ungdomsvården ligger långt ifrån idealen för evidensbaserad praktik. Reproduktionen av professionell kunskap sker främst implicit och utan frågasättande. Förståelse för praktikers faktiska kunskapsanvändning och lärande har central betydelse för hur verksamheter kan organiseras för att stödja lärande i arbetet.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2015. 92 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 641Linköping Studies in Behavioural Science, ISSN 1654-2029 ; 192
Knowledge, knowledge use, learning, evidence-based practice, social work practice, Kunskap, kunskapsanvändning, lärande, evidensbaserad praktik, socialt arbete
National Category
Pedagogy Sociology
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-117912 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-117912 (DOI)978-91-7519-088-4 (print) (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-06-05, Eklundska salen, Hus I, Campus Valla, Linköping, 13:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2015-05-13 Created: 2015-05-13 Last updated: 2015-06-02Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

fulltext(653 kB)352 downloads
File information
File name FULLTEXT01.pdfFile size 653 kBChecksum SHA-512
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf

Other links

Publisher's full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Avby, GunillaNilsen, PerAbrandt Dahlgren, Madeleine
By organisation
HELIX Vinn Excellence CentreEducation and SociologyFaculty of Arts and SciencesDivision of Community MedicineFaculty of Health SciencesEducation and Adult LearningFaculty of Educational Sciences
In the same journal
British Journal of Social Work
Social Work

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
Total: 352 downloads
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Altmetric score

Total: 734 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link