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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Brown: Perceptions of ‘Evidence-Based Practice’ among the Consumers of Adolescent Substance Use Treatment

Dr. Sara J. Becker, assistant professor of behavioral and social sciences in the Brown University School of Public Health, and colleagues studied the perceptions of ‘evidence-based practice’ among the consumers of adolescent substance use treatment.

Several national organizations have recently developed educational materials encouraging substance use disorder treatment consumers to seek out approaches supported by scientific evidence in order to promote the use of “evidence-based practice” (EBP). This study by Brown University School of Public Health researchers explored how adolescents with substance use disorders and their caregivers perceive, understand, and react to the concept of EBP.

Qualitative focus groups and structured interviews were conducted with caregivers and adolescents with substance use disorders in the Northeast. Discussions explored familiarity with EBP, assumptions about EBP, impressions of EBP after reading a common definition, and recommended terms to describe EBP in educational materials.

Very few participants had ever heard the term EBP. Common assumptions about the term “evidence-based” were that it referred to treatment based on the patient’s medical history, legal evidence of substance use, or the clinician’s prior experience. After reading a common definition of EBP, most participants thought the approach sounded inflexible. Alternative terms the participants recommended included proven, successful, better, and therapy that works.

Results suggest that future efforts to educate treatment consumers should use the phrase EBP with caution and emphasize the flexibility of the approach.

The study was published in April 20 in Health Education Journal.

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