Skip to Main Content

Research Guides

Eastern Washington University Libraries

Social Work 459: Survey of Microsystemic Practice Theories


Profile Photo
Liya Deng
JFK Library M04F
Office Hours: Thurs 10am-12pm
(509) 359-2333

Reference eBooks

PICO Framework

PICO framework is widely used in evidence-based practice to formulate questions and to develop search strategies.

P - Patient (or client), population, or problem
I - Intervention
C - Comparison or control
O - Outcome

CINAHL Ultimate- Advanced Searching Tutorial

Citing Articles on EBSCOhost - Tutorial

Searching in Scopus

Levels of Evidence in EBP

Additional Resource for Finding Evidence - the 2nd Step in the Five Steps of EBP


Welcome! This library resource guide is specifically for Professor Byrnes' SOWK 459 course (Spring 2023). Here, you can find resources, tips, and other library materials that will help you with your Role Play Reflections and Preferred Practice Theory Assignment. 

Using Research for Evidence-Based Practice (EBP)

According to the National Association of Social Work (NASW), in social work, EBP is a process involving creating an answerable question based on a client or organizational need, locating the best available evidence to answer the question, evaluating the quality of the evidence as well as its applicability, applying the evidence, and evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of the solution.

Steps in the Evidence-Based Practice Process
Step 1: Question Formulation [Ask]
Step 2: Evidence Search [Acquire/Search]
Step 3: Critically Appraising Studies and Reviews [Appraise]
Step 4: Selecting and Implementing the Intervention [Apply]
Step 5: Monitor Client Progress [Assess]

Again, EBP is a process in which the practitioner combines well-researched interventions with clinical experience, ethics, client preferences, and culture to guide and inform the delivery of treatments and services.
Source: Evidence-Based Practice - National Association of Social Work

Forming an EBP Question

According to Rubin & Bellamy (2012) Practitioner’s Guide to Using Research for Evidence-Based Practice, six common types of EBP questions that a practitioner might ask are:

1. What factors best predict desirable or undesirable outcomes?
2. What can I learn about clients, service delivery, and targets of intervention from the experiences of others?
3. What assessment tool should be used?
4. What intervention, program, or policy has the best effects? [most common EBP question - Which interventions, programs, or policies have the best evidence supporting their effectiveness?]
5. What are the costs of interventions, policies, and tools?
6. What are the potential harmful effects of interventions, policies, and tools?

Searching for the Best Available Evidence - Strategies

Evidence search in the EBP process can be challenging and time consuming. A number of resources from EWU Library exist to help you identify the most relevant evidence to answer your research questions.

Steps to find evidence-based articles:
1. Construct a well-formulated practice question about effectiveness of an intervention using the PICO framework.
2. Identify main elements of the question and develop the keywords that capture those key concepts (your PICO question can be used to create a search strategy, where each component of the PICO is a search term).
3. Select synonyms that represent the same key concepts in your question to find studies/articles that just use different vocabulary to mean the exact same thing.
4. Build an effective search query/statement using Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) when appropriate.

Boolean Logic

Why use Boolean operators?
(a). To focus a search, particularly when your topic contains multiple search terms.
(b). To connect search terms to find exactly what you're looking for (e.g. use AND to combine PICO components and OR to combine related terms within a component).

Boolean logic defines logical relationships between terms in a search. The Boolean search operators are used to create a very broad or very narrow search.

AND is used to narrow the search results The search results contain all of the search terms.
OR is used to broaden the search results.The search results contain at least one of the search terms.
NOT is used to exclude terms from your search. The search results does not contain any of the terms that follow it.

Note: Parentheses ( ) can be used to group together keywords. Keywords and Boolean operators within parentheses will be searched first, followed by other keywords outside parentheses. In addition, if you search for a phrase rather than just a single word, you can group the words together with double quotation marks (i.e. "global warming").

Research question: What is the connection between smoking and depression among teenagers?
Major concepts in the question: smoking, depression, teenagers.
Search statement: (smoking OR cigarettes) AND (depression OR mental health) AND (teenagers OR youth)

In sum, (1) narrow your search using AND; (2) expand your search using OR; and (3) narrow your results using NOT.

5. Use limiters in the database to refine your search results to evidence-based practice, such as Publication Type or Article Type - select Randomized Controlled Trials, which is defined as high level of evidence.
6. Screen and select the articles in the search results by first reviewing the titles and abstracts of the studies and determine whether they are relevant to your research question. The purpose of article screening to remove studies that are clearly not related to your topic.
7. Finally, retrieve and examine the full-text articles to appraise the evidence. Want to learn how to conduct critical appraisal, view the 9-minute video by Cochrane Mental Health.

Interdisciplinary and Subject-Specific Databases for Evidence Search

Four Social Work Theories - related to your assignments

Citing Sources in APA Style 7th Edition

Student Paper Format in APA

Finding Empirical Articles in PsycInfo