Review: The Psychology of Evidence-Based Practice Implementation


Research by Rousseau and Gunia (2015) suggests that a leadership environment which supports innovation is a factor in successful EBP   implementation. Behavioral and environmental challenges to EBP implementation such as practice conditions, large caseloads, and supervisor support, is also discussed. Individual practitioners will benefit from the author’s exploration of foundational and functional competencies associated with the practitioner’s ability to apply EBP in the workplace. According to Rousseau and Gunia, strong foundational competencies include critical thinking and domain or technical knowledge, while strong functional skills for successful EBP use follow core steps to identify information needs, translate them into answerable questions, and acquire evidence. In summary, the authors offer a better understanding of factors that increase opportunities to practice EBP, and suggest that without opportunity to practice, practitioner ability and motivation may not be enough. A copy of the working article can be accessed at under the authors Rousseau and Gunia. The expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Psychology Volume 67 is January 03, 2016.

Abstract: Evidence-based practice (EBP) is an approach used in numerous professions that focuses attention on evidence quality in decision making and action. We review research on EBP implementation, identifying critical underlying psychological factors facilitating and impeding its use. In describing EBP and the forms of evidence it employs, we highlight the challenges individuals face in appraising evidence quality, particularly that of their personal experience. We next describe critical EBP competencies and the challenges underlying their acquisition: foundational competencies of critical thinking and domain knowledge, and functional competencies such as question formulation, evidence search and appraisal, and outcome evaluation. We then review research on EBP implementation across diverse fields from medicine to management and organize findings around three key contributors to EBP: practitioner ability, motivation, and opportunity to practice (AMO). Throughout, important links between psychology and EBP are highlighted, along with the contributions psychological research can make to further EBP development and implementation.

Author Keywords: evidence-based practice, decision supports, evidence appraisal, critical thinking, protocols and checklists, practice-oriented evidence

Denise M. Rousseau: Heinz College of Public Policy, Information, and Management and Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213; email: [email protected]

Brian C. Gunia: Carey Business School, John Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21202-1099; email: [email protected]