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Practice Corner: Impressions of “Evidence-Based Practice”: A direct-to-consumer survey of caregivers concerned about adolescent substance use

Practice Corner Author: Allison Meyer, Duke University

Article Title:  Impressions of “Evidence-Based Practice”: A direct-to-consumer survey of caregivers concerned about adolescent substance use

Article Authors: Sara J. Becker, Brittany J. Weeks, Katherine I. Escobar, Oswaldo Moreno, Cathryn R. DeMarco & Shelly A. Gresko

Why is this article relevant to practice?

  • By appreciating how potential clients understand the language and principles underlying evidence-based therapies, we can communicate more effectively about our best practices.
  • Variability in knowledge and acceptance of evidence-based therapies suggests that taking an “If you build it, they will come” approach may not be adequate, particularly in reaching historically disadvantaged groups.

 What are the key takeaways from the article?

  • This study addresses patient-level barriers to accessing evidence-based treatments.
  • The authors surveyed 411 caregivers concerned about their adolescents’ substance use to assess their perceptions and knowledge of evidence-based practice.
  • Most caregivers (57%) reported preferring a “proven” therapy over an idiosyncratic or varied approach.
  • Only about half (51%) of caregivers found the phrase “evidence-based therapy” appealing.
  • Caregivers’ understanding of and preferences for evidence-based practice were moderated by demographic variables.
    • Caregivers of racial or ethnic minorities, lower income, and especially lower education were more likely to define “evidence-based therapy” incorrectly and hold negative impressions of the concept.
    • Non-Hispanic whites were more likely than racial or ethnic minorities to find “evidence-based therapy” appealing.
  • When talking with youth and their caregivers, the authors recommend clinicians do the following:
    • Use the phrase “effective” in place of evidence-based.”
    • Emphasize that evidence-based practices are “individualized” and “flexible.”

 What do the authors say are the limitations of the article?

  • The study relied on convenience sample that may not be representative of the entire population of caregivers concerned about their adolescent’s substance use.
  • Survey items were based on previous qualitative research but have not yet been psychometrically validated.
  • The sample was predominantly non-Hispanic White, which limited the ability to examine heterogeneity in factors such as acculturation, perceived discrimination, and identity salience.

Helpful links: Websites describing three components of evidence-based practice.

Diagram     Text Description

Full Article Reference: Becker, S.J., Weeks, B.J., Escobar, K.I., Moreno, O., DeMarco, C.R., & Gresko, S.A. Impressions of “Evidence-Based Practice”: a direct-to-consumer survey of caregivers concerned about adolescent substance use.  Evidence-based practice in child and adolescent mental health (3)2, 70 – 80.