An evidence-based practice (EBP) is one that is based in research and shows evidence of effectiveness under a particular set of circumstances. The term “practice” is synonymous with “program, intervention or strategy” in this context. The goal of seeking recognition as an evidence-based practice for behavioral health is to create and sustain outcomes attributed to a practice. Many funders promote use of evidence-based practice(s) (EBPs) because it is believed that their effects are known and can be replicated. In addition, they may want to preserve scarce resources which might otherwise be directed towards developing practices which are untested and for which outcomes are less certain. The type of evidence and the relative strength of the evidence may differ based on the fidelity to the practice, culture, context and population targeted. Even though a proposed practice has been implemented in another setting or with a different population, it should not be assumed to be evidence-based in all contexts.
EBPs can be found on a registry or on lists of approved programs published by a federal agency or research group; reported in peer reviewed literature; or determined by a consensus of experts who review other types of documentation of effectiveness. There is no one path to a designation of evidence-based practice but rather a continuum of approaches. The decision to seek designation as an evidence-based practice should be weighed carefully based on potential benefits and challenges and a clear level of evidence.