Evidence-Based Practice Project

Classifying Evidence-Based Practices


This page provides information on how to stay up to date on evidence-based practices and how to locate reviews of evidence-based practices.


Systematic Review Organizations

There are many strategies for staying "on-top" of the treatment research literature. Usually, the question that comes to mind next is how practitioners can most efficiently keep abreast of the evidence-based treatments for a particular clinical diagnosis, particularly given that few people have the time to regularly and systematically search the academic literature. While searching and reading the literature yourself is still the most comprehensive method for staying up-to-date, more and more treatment providers are relying on systematic reviews of the treatment literature and classification of interventions by independent organizations.

Identifying the major professional organization for the clinical diagnosis or condition you're focusing on can be a good place to start. In addition, there are several organizations or networks that systematically review and report on EBP for health and mental health interventions. The advantage to using these organizations for a source of practice reviews is that they all have a systematic process for identifying and reviewing research studies, and they almost always have a diverse group of people working together to review the literature. Both of these processes make it less likely that the biases of one or two people will color the review (although there are no guarantees) compared to the average review article published in an academic journal. Here are three major organizations for that conduct such reviews:


  • Cochrane Collaboration: international effort to promote evidence-based healthcare for the purpose of enabling patients & doctors to make informed decisions about treatment and care. www.cochrane.org

  • Campbell Collaboration: international network focused on helping people make well-informed decisions about the effects of interventions in the social, behavioral and educational arenas. www.campbellcollaboration.org.

  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ): the health services research arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that translates research findings into better patient care and provides policymakers & other health care leaders with information needed to make critical health care decisions. AHRQ funds Evidence-Based Practice Centers to review and synthesize scientific evidence for conditions or technologies that are costly, common, or important to the Medicare or Medicaid programs. The ISTSS review of treatments for PTSD used the AHRQ classification system in their report. www.ahcpr.gov


Here is a web resource that will link you to import evidence-based resources. Over 210 sites provide full text articles.


  • World Wide Web Resources for Social Workers (WWWRSW) and Information for Practice (IP): This site provides over 81,585 world wide web links, many focus on EBP's. The majority of the links are to full text electronic journals, newsletters, government agencies, educational institutions and professional organizations. http://ifp.nyu.edu


When reading a review, it's important to examine the procedures for how research studies were identified for inclusion and exclusion. Reviews serve as a good starting place, but should never substitute for your own careful examination of the literature if it's a topic that's important to you.





Levels of Evidence- Empirically Supported Treatment (EST)

Our workshops, certificate programs and other course descriptions provide information about theEmpirically Supported Treatment (research supported) that the training content includes. Some trainings may focus on a single treatment model. Others may draw upon several models with varying levels of ESTs or reference content based on the best research available at this time. When there are reputable websites that describe the research or level of EST for the training content, the description of the training will provide a link to that web page. In instances where this is not available or the content includes more than one level of research as described on this page, the described will reference the level or levels you see below. Our goal is to be transparent in assisting you to make informed decisions as you select training that best meets your needs. For trainings that do not involve treatment content, there may be related research and the training descriptionwill reflect the level(s) of this research.

Evidence-based Practice (EBP)is “…the framework that is used to promote adoption of best practices informed by research.”-ASWBIt is a decision process completed by looking at the best research available including Empirically Supported Treatment; existing resources including practitioner expertise; environment and organizational context; and the client’s characteristics, needs, values and preferences. The intersection of these components is Evidence-Based Practice (EBP). EBP prefers stronger evidence and encourages clinicians to critically appraise research information. Originally, EBP came from the medical profession and has expanded to child welfare, psychology, nursing, and other disciplines. The social work profession has not yet created its own definition.

American Psychological Association Levels of EST

After reviewing several ways of describing levels of Empirically Supported Treatment (EST), we selected the following levels to incorporate into descriptions for our training content. Please be aware that not all treatments are ethically appropriate for randomized controlled trial research, funding may not be available for the needed level of research, research may be difficult to locate or not rigorous and relevant, etc. Therefore, some treatments may never be able to rise to the highest level of research. Research outcomes can also change over time as new research occurs. In addition, reputable sites that identify levels of evidence do not always agree on the level. A link to website resources about empirically supported treatment or evidence-based treatment is at the bottom of this page

The levels we are using are adopted from an Empirically Supported Treatment system developed byChamblee’s et al. (1998)for the American Psychological Association Division 12 Task Force on Psychological Interventions. This system was later articulated in more detail in theJournal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology(Southam-Gerow & Prinstein, 2013).Use the link below to open the details on the levels.










UB faculty training at offsite OMH locations.


 Page Updated on 03/13/08