Finding EBP: It’s Easier than you Think!
I must admit I am not always the best at using Evidence Based Practice (EBP), but it’s a personal goal of mine to become better. It’s hard enough to take the time to reflect on sessions (or eat lunch), never mind find the time to read through research papers. I’ve been trying to set aside some time once a month to read over some literature to make sure my treatment practices are still considered effective.
Why do We Need EBP?
A professor once said to me, “Know not only what you are doing but why”. A simple statement but so true. We often forget to step back and say to ourselves, “Do I know why I’m choosing this method today?” When I take the time to think about EBP, I want to reflect on why I choose a treatment method over another one and how would it benefit my specific student. It’s easy to get caught up in stress of our everyday responsibilities, but using therapy treatments backed by EBP has to be a priority for therapists. It increases the credibility of you as a clinician and of our field as a whole.
How is EBP Structured?
EBP might seem intimidating at first, but it’s really all structured in the same way. Here are the three parts in simple terms:
External Scientific Evidence: What does the current research say about specific treatment methods?
Clinical Expertise/Expert Opinion: What do you know to be true about the treatment as a clinician?
Client/Patient/Caregiver Perspectives: What do the clients or their caregivers want to gain out of therapy?
So how do we practically implement EBP? I recommend using a database (my favorite one is ASHA’s Evidence Based Systematic Reviews- easy and free, see below!) to find treatments backed by solid evidence and then working these techniques into your therapy sessions. You don’t need to spend hours reading through lengthy research papers, just find the bottom line. What does the research show- is this treatment considered effective or not? Typically the Clinical Implications section of the paper is where you can find the most relevant information.
The next step is taking that treatment method and individualizing our treatment for each person you treat. What are your client’s goals and how will you present the material? Do they need a very structured lesson, will you play a game, or do they need visuals/Mayer-Johnson pictures? Finally, don’t forget to evaluate how the session went. Think about your implementation, and how your client responded. How did their performance compare to previous sessions? You might need to make some small tweaks to optimize your sessions.
I’ve listed some tools below to make finding EBP easier. There are many so databases out there, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding research that supports your treatment.
ASHA Evidence-based practice MAPS: My favorite because it’s free and easy to search! They are “intended to provide clinicians, researchers, clients, and caregivers with tools and guidance to engage in evidence-based decision making. These maps highlight the importance of the three components of evidence-based practice (EBP). External Scientific Evidence, Clinical Expertise/Expert Opinion, and Client/Patient/Caregiver Perspectives.” (ASHA, 2012). www.ncepmaps.org
Speechbite: An intervention and treatment database for therapists. Users can search and find research papers specifically on interventions. http://www.speechbite.com/
ASHA EBP Technical Report: ASHA offers clinical practice guidelines as well as systematic reviews which provide evidence. http://www.asha.org/members/ebp/compendium/
NSW Speech Pathology EBP Network: A network of Speech Pathologists collect and evaluate practical applications of treatment methods to our clinical practice. They also provide a forum for professionals to share and discuss EBP. http://www.nswspeechpathologyebp.com.au/
Evidence Based Practice Briefs: Summaries of research along with ‘EBP Briefs’ across a number of areas of speech pathology practice. Occasional podcasts (from the authors of each Brief) are available on the same website. www.speechandlanguage.com/ebp-briefs
The Institute of Education Sciences National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance created the document Identifying and Implementing Educational Practices Supported by Rigorous Evidence: A User Friendly Guide. In this guide there is an appendix which lists some websites to help find EBP. I’ve listed some that relate to our field below:
The Promising Practices Network highlights programs and practices that credible research indicates are effective in improving outcomes for children, youth, and families.
The International Campbell Collaboration offers a registry of systematic reviews of evidence on the effects of interventions in the social, behavioral, and educational arenas.
Social Programs That Work offers a series of papers developed by the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy on social programs that are backed by rigorous evidence of effectiveness.
How do you find and use EBP? Let us know. Sign up for our mailing list here to stay updated with our latest therapy tips, app announcements, and blog posts. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Pinterest, and like us on Facebook!