What is Evidence-Informed Practice (EIP)?

Evidence-informed Practice (EIP) involves the conscientious and judicious use of key types of information when making decisions about policy and practice. EIP considers:

  • The case circumstances state and context;
  • Child, youth, and family preferences and values;
  • Practitioner knowledge and experience;
  • The best available research evidence.

An important factor of being evidence-informed is ensuring that you have gathered information and thought critically about each of these four key areas, and are able to integrate all evidence into the best possible decision.

PART’s role is to provide you with research, so you can incorporate this type of evidence in to your daily practice. Using research evidence is like continually gathering evidence and putting it in your tool box wherever you go. When you encounter a situation related to a specific topic, you consult the research and think critically by asking questions like:  

  • What does the research evidence say?
  • What are the different research methodologies?
  • How does this apply to my situation?
  • Is this the best available research evidence?

These questions will guide you in your use of the information that you’ve collected in your bag.  

Why EIP?

  • EIP has potential to create change in organizations and systems, and has been proposed as a method of supporting critical thinking and practice in child welfare that is based on sound evidence (Trocmé, Esposito, Laurendeau, Thomson, & Milne, 2009).
  • It is argued that existing knowledge is underused by child welfare practitioners and that in order to move forward as a profession we must move toward an approach that utilizes evidence in practice (Gambrill 1999; 2001).
  • The use of research to inform practice can increase accountability and transparency in decision-making, better determine whether interventions will likely have the desired outcome, and ensure that practitioner decisions to intervene are informed by the best available knowledge (Epstein, 2009).
  • EIP practice and policy at the macro level offers the field great potential for honouring ethical guidelines to integrate practice and research, to respond ethically to problems of scarce resources, to involve clients as informed participants, to enhance social and economic justice, and to empower clients (Gambrill, 2008).
  • Extant literature illustrates that evidence-informed practice in child welfare organizations is associated with organizational cultures of learning (Collins-Camargo & Royse, 2010), which are important for practitioner retention, well-being, and child and family outcomes.

What are the differences between training and EIP?

While being evidence informed and training are important to providing effective services, they are different; training is teaching someone a certain behviour or skill (e.g., learning how to interview a child within a child welfare context), whereas being evidence-informed is the incorporation of research in practice (e.g., referring a family to an evidence-based intervention, exploring the research on how substance misuse affects parenting capacity). To learn about the differences between training and EIP:

Ask yourself...   Ask yourself...  
Am I being taught a new skill or behaviour? You are being trained Am I using research to better determine whether interventions will likely have the desired outcome? You are being evidence-informed
Am I seeking out research information? You are being evidence-informed Am I being asked by my agency to add a new tool, intervention, or method of practice to my work? You are being trained
Am I making the decision whether or not to incorporate research into my decision or practice? You are being evidence-informed Am I seeking out information to tell me factors that are associated with positive/negative outcomes? You are being evidence-informed
Am I expected to exhibit the same behaviour in similar situations? You are being trained Am I following a manual or course that suggests “best practice”? You are being trained
Am I being assessed on my behaviour? You are being trained Am I using research evidence to better guide my practice? You are being evidence-informed
Am I thinking critically about case context, child and family preferences, my experiences, research, and then making a decision? You are being evidence-informed Am I expected by my agency to change my practice, based on this new tool, intervention, or method? You are being trained


  • Collins-Camargo, C. & Royse, D. (2010). A study of relationships among effective supervision, organizational culture promoting evidence-based practice, and worker self-efficacy in public child welfare. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 4, 1-24.
  • Epstein, I. (2009). Promoting harmony where there is commonly conflict: Evidence-informed practice as an integrative strategy. Social Work in Health Care, 48, 216-231.
  • Gambrill, E. (1999). Evidence-based practice: An alternative to authority-based practice. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Human Services. 80, 341-350.
  • Gambrill, E. (2001). Social work: An authority-based profession. Research on Social Work Practice. 11, 166-176.
  • Gambrill, E. (2008). Evidence-based (informed) macro practice: Process and Philosophy. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 5, 423-452.
  • Trocmé, N., Esposito, T., Laurendeau, C., Thomson, W., & Milne, L. (2009). Knowledge mobilization in child welfare. Criminologie, 42, 33-59.