Attitudes to Evidence-Based Practice among Social Work Practitioners in South Africa

Keywords: evidence-based practice, Evidence-Based Practice Attitude Scale, social work, South Africa


The implementation of evidence-based social work practice is an international priority. Attitudes to evidence-based practice are instrumental in its dissemination and active implementation. This paper, the first of its kind, explores the nature and correlates of attitudes to evidence-based practice among social work practitioners in South Africa, based on a descriptive statistical analysis of data from a small online survey. In terms of results, the Evidence-Based Practice Attitude Scale suggests that respondents’ attitudes to evidence-based practice are generally positive. One exception is the requirements sub-scale, where performance indicates some resistance to a regulatory or authoritarian approach to the implementation of evidence-based social work practice. Furthermore, the limited evidence presented here shows that more experienced social work practitioners are less inclined to adopt prescribed evidence-based practice. Moreover, they find such practice less appealing, and are less open to implementing new structured and manualised interventions. With regard to recommendations, it is proposed that training in evidence-based practice be incorporated into continuous professional development programmes for social work practitioners. In addition, studies of this nature should be replicated on a more comprehensive and representative scale in South Africa and other developing countries.

Author Biographies

Frederik Booysen, University of the Witwatersrand
Paulin Mbecke, Université du Moyen Lualaba (UML), Kalima - DRC University of the Free State (UFS), Bloemfontein - South Africa

Associate Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Social, Political and Administrative Sciences at UML

Research Fellow at the UFS

Amanda de Gouveia, University of the Free State (UFS)
Tatenda Manomano, University of the Free State
Pius Tanga, University of the Free State