Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1996

Publication Title

Social Work Research

Volume

20

Issue

2

First Page

119

Last Page

128

Keywords

Bias, Effectiveness, Evaluation, Meta-analysis, Review, Social work practice

Abstract

This meta-analytic review synthesizes the findings of 88 recent (1990 to 1994) independent studies of the effectiveness of social work interventions and compares the findings of those studies based on authors' assessments of their practice experience (internal evaluations) and other evaluators' assessments (external evaluations). Overall, social work interventions are effective; three-quarters of the clients who participate in social work interventions do better than the average client who does not. Also, the estimated rate of problem improvement among clients who experience an intervention and are assessed by social worker—researchers themselves is nearly 25 percent greater than the estimated rate assessed by other evaluators. Internal evaluations, which arise from workers' day-to-day assessments of their own practice and account for the vast majority of social work's knowledge base, may be thought to precede external ones. However, at some point in the development of knowledge, external evaluation may enhance confidence in the effectiveness of an intervention.

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Social Work Commons

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