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How can we help practitioners and service planners?

Many service planners and practitioners would like to make better use of research evidence in the design and delivery of projects and services, but aren’t quite sure where to start.  As part of the What Works for Children? initiative, we devised a number of tools and services which seek to address some of the barriers and assist practitioners with the process of finding, accessing, adapting and applying research evidence in practice. We aimed to assist practitioners in making use of research evidence by:

  • Making relevant research evidence more accessible and useable 

  • Exploring, identifying and responding to the needs of planners and practitioners implementing evidence into practice

Potential barriers to using research evidence from the practitioners perspective…and some solutions!

"We don’t know where to find research evidence/never get to hear about research."

"We don’t have the skills to assess whether research evidence is good/useful or not."

  • Providing training and support in critical appraisal skills (reading the evidence)

  • Producing an evidence guide providing guidance for practitioners on locating, appraising and using research findings.

"We don’t see how it can help us/it doesn’t seem relevant to us/not sure how to use it/apply it to our service. Research evidence is often not seen as practice orientated or is seen as out of date in relation to practice."

  • Focusing on practitioner and local needs around implementation of evidence into practice

  • Generating and helping to formulate research questions

"Research evidence is usually presented in a way which makes it difficult to interpret / isn’t relevant to our needs."

"Our organisation/management isn’t interested/doesn’t support the use of evidence in practice."

  • Training and support in evidence-based practice for service planners/management/practitioners e.g. Barnardo's evidence guide

  • Research use: self assessment tool to identify gaps/barriers in an organisation's ability to acquire, assess, adapt and apply evidence in practice

  • Raising awareness of the benefits of evidence-based practice through training

"There’s pressure on us to direct funding towards particular services / to use other sources of information in planning services."

  • Discussions with agenda setters, policy makers and practitioners about alternative evidence-based solutions

"We don’t have the time or resources to access and use research evidence."

  • Making relevant research more accessible e.g. EvidenceNugget format, summaries

  • Responding to specific queries/questions from practitioners

  • Identification of priorities for Children’s Fund programmes/practitioners

"We lack some of the necessary knowledge and skills to access, understand and use evidence."

"There doesn't seem to be any research in the area we're interested in."

  • What Works for Children? carried out a review of what practitioners say they want from research and compared it with what research had actually been funded by five major funders in social care to see where there were gaps in the research base.

  • We put together a list of the favourite research topics asked for

New training resource!
The Evidence Guide: Using Research and Evaluation in Social Care and Allied Professions

This new training resource, published by Barnardo's, is designed to help social care staff to locate, assess and apply research evidence in practice. The Evidence Guide was developed as part of the WWfC project in collaboration with CEBSS (The Centre for Evidence Based Social Services and Barnardo's R&D team. The pack is divided into 5 modules each aimed at a particular aspect of developing the effective use of research and evaluation:

MODULE 1: Using Research Evidence in Practice: An Introduction
MODULE 2: Locating Research Evidence in Five Steps
MODULE 3: Appraising and Reviewing Research Evidence
MODULE 4: Adapting and Applying Evidence: issues for individual practitioners and organisations
MODULE 5: Outcome-focused Evaluation

The pack has been piloted and reviewed with both external agencies and practitioners within Barnardo's services. The pack is available from Barnardo's. An order form can be printed here.


page last updated 07/12/2006
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