Evidence-Based and Evidence-Informed Research: Why the Difference Matters

Evidence-based research has been a hot topic as of late and it is used in many contexts such as medical fields and social services. Recently, the term evidence-informed research has joined the conversation and shaped the realities of research for organizations across the globe. Here at CCAHT, we rely on evidence-informed research to help inform our practice and guide everything we do from creating policies to interacting with survivors. At times it can be confusing as to what the differences are between evidence-based and evidence-informed practice since they both have “research” in the name. It is important to note that there are distinctions between the two as well as pros and cons for both. In this blog, we are going to discuss the differences between these two types of research, why we use evidence-informed more frequently, and why we are transparent about which type we are using.

What are the differences between evidence-based and evidence-informed research? 

Evidence-based means that research is conducted through validated scientific processes. This process can be extensive and complex and may even take years to complete. In fact, it is so complex that there are 5 steps that must be completed and repeated continuously for the life of the program, practice, or policy. This research is continuous in order to stay relevant and best for the current situation. Most often evidence-based research is seen in clinical settings as studies can be controlled and evaluated more effectively. This process is what most people think of when thinking about research as in creating an answerable question, searching for evidence, evaluating for validity, integrating what has been found, and then evaluating outcomes. Evidence-based research is not for the faint of heart and many professions must have a Ph.D. to conduct research on this level. Interestingly, newer researchers argue that evidence-based alone can be restrictive for programs/practices and may not be as inclusive as other forms of evidence.

Enter evidence-informed. 

Evidence-informed means organizations use research that is already available and has been tested, tried, and true. This evidence is then combined with the experiences and expertise of the organization to best fit the population served. Evidence-informed is great for CCAHT because human trafficking is virtually impossible to track, let alone research. This is such a problem that many times anti-trafficking agencies will use research that has been conducted surrounding similar topics such as domestic violence or violent crimes against women. Using evidence-informed practice allows agencies to use the best practices possible without having to reinvent the wheel or spend thousands of dollars on research of their own.

At CCAHT, we work hard to be transparent about the types of research we use. We do not claim to be evidence-based or to have all the answers when it comes to human trafficking, but we are constantly using evidence-informed research along with survivor input to guide our decisions day to day. We are careful to make these distinctions because we do not want to undermine the work of researchers who are on the front lines of human trafficking research, which can be exhaustive.

If you have any questions about CCAHT or how we use research you can reach us at info@ccaht.org.

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Resources:

Woodbury, G., & Kuhnke, J. (2014, April). Evidence-based Practice vs. Evidence-informed Practice: What’s the Difference? Retrieved July, 2018.

Evidence-Based Practice Definitions and Glossaries. (n.d.). Retrieved July, 2018, from https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/management/practice-improvement/evidence/ebp/definitions/

 

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