Outlook: A Quarterly Newsletter of the Society of Behavorial Medicine
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SBM Teams Create New Learning Modules on Implementing Evidence-Based Practices in the Real World

Molly Ferguson, MPH
Bonnie Spring, PhD, ABPP

The Evidence-Based Behavioral Practice (EBBP) Project was commissioned in 2006 by a contract from the National Institute of Health's Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research (OBSSR) to Northwestern University (Bonnie Spring, Principal Investigator). There are several questions we want to answer with this contract, including: What is evidence-based practice? How does it fit into behavioral interventions? How do various disciplines that conduct behavioral interventions (psychology, medicine, nursing, public health and social work) translate research into practice?

In order to begin tackling these questions, the first thing we did was bring together experts in each of the above-mentioned disciplines in order to harmonize the approach to behavioral interventions across individual clinical treatment and population level interventions. Experts from the above-mentioned disciplines formed the EBBP Council, creating the Three Circles of EBBP, a conceptual model that balances scientific evidence with client/community preferences, and available resources (Satterfield et al., 2009).1

Once the model was created, we noticed that there were gaps in the behavioral science training curriculum that needed to be filled. We perceived that missing skills included the finding and appraising of evidence, understanding the steps of EBBP, and knowing how to conduct systematic reviews and RCTs. As a result, we created the following modules in partnership with SBM during our first three years of the project: The EBBP Process, Searching for Evidence, Introduction to Systematic Reviews, Critical Appraisal, and Randomized Controlled Trials.

Having first addressed students in training, we have now shifted our focus to the wide world of practice with individual clients and communities. We are creating new training resources that aim to address the "Apply" step of the EBBP process, where practitioners in the field need to perform decision-making that integrates the Three Circles of EBBP. Unfortunately, it is often not the case that there is an evidence-based practice about which the client or community is enthusiastic and there are available resources to cover the costs. When the evidence, preferences, and resources are out of alignment, practitioners face unique challenges, about which there is little in the literature to provide guidance. In order to help fill the gap, we gathered two teams of SBM practitioners who work either clinically with individuals or in public health with communities and populations. The Practitioner Advisory Council, or PRAC, is comprised of SBM members including:

Practice with Communities Practice with Individuals
Ross Brownson, PhD Karen Oliver, PhD
Elena Carbone, DrPH, RD, LDN Judith DePue, EdD, MPH
Pam Eidson, MEd Jeanne Gabriele, PhD
Jonathan N. Tobin, PhD Jamie Studts, PhD
Cynthia Vinson, MPA  

PRAC members collaborated to script what they actually do when evidence, client/community preferences, and resources are at variance, resulting in two new modules on shared decision-making. Both groups came together for a two-day meeting this summer to view each other's modules and discuss additional learning tools needed to accelerate the uptake of evidence-based practices. Although two separate modules were created, the overlap between individual and community-based shared decision-making was apparent, and members were eager to contribute to each other's modules. Talk about shared decision-making!

The new shared decision-making modules, along with all other training resources from the EBBP Project, are available at www.ebbp.org/training.html. All materials are available free of charge. Also, continuing education credits are available for psychologists, physicians, and nurses, and will be available shortly for social workers.

For more information about the EBBP Project, visit the project's main website at www.ebbp.org. Please contact Molly Ferguson, the EBBP Program Manager, at m-ferguson@northwestern.edu with any questions/comments.


  1. Satterfield, JM, Spring B, Brownson RC, Mullen EJ, Newhouse RP, Walker BB, et al. Toward a transdisciplinary model of evidence-based practice. Milbank Q. 2009;87(2):368-90.