Accountability, Evidence, and the Use of Information Systems in Social Service Programs.
Carrilio, Terry E.
San Diego State University.
Journal of Social Work
Vol. 8, No. 2 , p. 135-148
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Summary: As social work engages with the ideology of evidence-based practice it becomes important to accurately document service activities and outcomes. This often proves problematic, as utilization of systems to collect data for evaluation is fraught with ideological, epistemological, and skill-based difficulties. This article describes a 'multiple case study' consisting of: 1) a multi-agency evaluation with inconsistent implementation of a data collection system; and 2) a follow-up cross-sectional study of social workers' use of computers and data systems.Findings: Four components related to practitioner utilization of data systems were identified: skills and experience with using computers, perceived ease of use, utility of the data, and attitudes about the data. The latter may point to underlying epistemological and ontological issues regarding evidence-based practice in direct service settings.Applications: It is important to understand the interactiing personal, professional, and organizational factors that influence social workers' use of information systems. The findings suggest that improving worker skill and comfort with data systems as well as maintaining an open dialogue about how data will be used may be key components of efforts to improve practitioner utilization of data systems. (Author abstract)
Social workers; Evidence based practice; Accountability; Data collection; Management information systems