Methods: MSW students across nine sections of an advanced research methods course for direct practice students at one university in the Southwest were invited to participate in an anonymous online cross-sectional survey. Participating students (n=165) had chosen to specialize in direct practice. Measures assessed exposure to EBP, feasibility of EBP in their field placement, science literacy (Finney & Schraw, 2003), EBT attitudes (EBT Attitude Scale; Aarons, 2004), and EBP processes (measured via four subscales: familiarity, attitudes, feasibility, and wiliness to engage; Parrish & Rubin, 2011). Hierarchical regression analysis was used to assess associations between the demographic and the practice-related factors mentioned above and two EBP-related variables as well as the four subdomains comprising the EBP process model variable.
Results: Students who believed EBP is feasible at their field placement reported more positive attitudes toward EBTs (β =.17; p< .05) and the EBP process model (β=.39; p<.001). Science literacy was associated with the EBP process model (β=.20; p<.01), but not with attitudes toward EBTs. In regards to subdomains of the EBP process model, exposure to EBP was associated with familiarity (β=.22; p<.05), attitudes (β=.22; p<.01), and feasibility (β=.19; p<.05), yet was not related to intention to use EBP process model (β=.10; p>.05). EBP feasibility at one’s field placement was associated with feasibility (β=.28; p<.001) and intention to use EBP (β=.35; p<.001). Science literacy was associated with familiarity about the EBP process model (β=.40; p<.001).
Conclusion: This study provides evidence that MSW programs that strengthen existing curriculum around EBP can engage students in the EBP process model. Students’ experiences in their field placements and previous exposure to EBP appear to be important to students’ attitudes toward the EBP process model. In particular, quality field placements that encourage and mentor students in using EBP seem critical to students’ belief that the EBP process model can be adopted in social work practice. Also, science literacy and the ability to consume research evidence were significant predictors of familiarity of the EBP process model. Findings suggests that MSW programs should enhance the selection of field placement settings that adopt EBPs as well as provide a strong educational basis for adopting the EBP process model after graduation.