Decision Making and the Use of Evidence-Based Practice: Is the Three-Legged Stool Balanced?

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This article presents the results of a qualitative analysis of interviews with 25 psychologists in independent practice, with a focus on decision making with a selected patient. We endeavored to examine how clinical decision making intersected with the principles of evidence based practice (EBP) as laid out by Spring (2007). Clinicians reported that diagnostic impressions were generally formulated through unstructured assessment rather than validated instruments, and that treatment selection was based on therapists’ perceptions of a treatment’s match with client characteristics. Therapists viewed CBTs as appropriate for addressing symptoms but believed they needed to depart from CBT strategies to address underlying issues. Nonetheless, they often defined successes and failures in treatment in terms of symptoms. Overall, clinicians rarely mentioned utilization of research evidence for assessment or treatment selection and practice. Results are discussed within the framework of EBP.

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