Evidence-Based Practice Implementation: Perceptions and Expectations of Master of Social Work Students
Background and Purpose: Efforts to develop sustainable Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) implementation strategies in work settings have been generally unsuccessful. Previous studies investigating EBP implementation centered mostly on perceptions of workers already in practice settings. No known published study has yet focused exclusively on Master of Social Work (MSW) students’ perceptions of EBP. Failure to improve EBP implementation points to a need for greater understanding of factors related to students’ intention to implement EBP after graduation. This investigation’s findings contribute to such understanding, filling a substantial knowledge gap in this area and may aid in developing more effective ways to teach EBP.
The online nationwide study assessed the extent to which students’ perceptions of EBP are related to intention to implement EBP after graduation. It was hypothesized that students reporting higher perceived knowledge of EBP, more positive attitudes, and higher self-efficacy would report a greater intention to implement EBP after graduation.
Methods: This non-probability self-administered study surveyed MSW students’ perceptions of EBP using three sets of questions assessing the independent variables, EBP knowledge, attitude toward EBP and EBP self-efficacy. A fourth set of questions assessing the dependent variable intention to implement EBP after graduation. The four measures had Cronbach’s alphas ranging from .81 to .95, indicating good to excellent internal consistency reliability. The survey was distributed to about 209 Council on Social Work Education accredited programs and 33 programs in candidacy. A total of 212 MSW students completed the survey. Data were assessed using bivariate correlations and simultaneous multiple regression analysis.
Results: Bivariate correlations supported all three hypotheses, indicating a statistically significant positive linear relationship between intention and knowledge, attitude, and self-efficacy. A simultaneous multiple regression analysis indicated a statistically significant and positive relationship between intention and knowledge, attitude, and self-efficacy, supporting all three hypotheses. Attitude had a relatively larger and statistically significant effect on intention to use EBP. Each standard deviation increase in attitude led to a .48 SD increase in intention to use EBP when controlling for knowledge and self-efficacy. EBP knowledge and self-efficacy both had moderate effects on intention. Each SD increase in knowledge resulted in a .20 SD increase in intention when controlling for attitude and self-efficacy. Each SD increase in self-efficacy led to a .13 SD increase in intention when controlling for attitude and knowledge.
Conclusion and Implications: The results of this study indicate that Attitude toward EBP, with a relatively greater standardized regression coefficient, was more closely related to intention to use EBP after graduation than knowledge and self-efficacy. Given that current efforts to develop sustainable EBP implementation strategies are centered on methods and techniques, this finding suggests the need to focus more on changing attitudes towards EBP. Furthermore, the study’s results also suggest that in general, knowledge, attitude and self-efficacy could be the basis for models for developing sustainable EBP implementation strategies and for improving the way we teach EBP.