BASW and NIHR report

BASW and NIHR report

Recently published BASW and NIHR report highlights challenges and opportunities for evidence use in social work policy and practice

Report cover for BASW/NIHR reportA recently published report reflects on discussions from a roundtable event organised by the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) on better use of evidence in social work policy and practice.

The event involved contributions from Professor Jill Manthorpe (Associate Director), Matthew Bushell (Capacity-building Fellow) and Dr Michael Clark (Research Programme Manager) from the NIHR School for Social Care Research (NIHR SSCR), among others.

The report highlights barriers ‘from structural issues of ministerial and functional responsibility to data sharing and possible cultural resistance to research by practitioners’, while also sharing more ‘positive signs of flourishing interest in evidence, paired with networks and activities for teaching and reflective practice’. It reports that ‘social workers were seeing more relevant and high quality evidence coming through, with sustained engagement from practitioners and service users in research studies’.

The School’s Deputy Director and Capacity-Building Lead, Professor Yvonne Birks, shares her thoughts on the report:

NIHR SSCR very much welcomes this report and the reference to our research making a difference; as a research school we continue to strive to ensure that the research we commission has the potential for positive impact. The investment that NIHR and other funders have made in social care research over recent years has the potential to really make a difference and is already doing so. The challenges and opportunities raised in the report are reflective of discussions we have had to ‘mobilise research in practice’ and improve evidence use in thinking through these investments; we now need to ensure that we come together to continue to support developments in adult social care policy and practice.

It is also important that we take proactive steps to respond to these challenges and opportunities – many of which we have all been aware of for some years. There are already existing initiatives and approaches that are addressing some of this, and we all need to do more to share and celebrate these, as well as explore areas for development in which sector leaders from research and practice could collaborate further.

NIHR SSCR has long championed increasing support for skills development and opportunities to lead or be involved in research. We have been working with the adult social care sector, the NIHR Academy and other NIHR colleagues to create opportunities to build capacity for using and doing research. Within NIHR SSCR we now have a number of flexible funding schemes that are supporting practice colleagues to, for example, lead and engage in research studies, gain training in research skills and methods, and gain research qualifications. Our cohort of doctoral and capacity-building award holders are from varied backgrounds and are further helping to improve collaboration between research and practice. We know they will go on to champion research use and engagement among their colleagues. New schemes are in development, including future leadership awards and through the new NIHR Social Care Incubator, which will also support and build an exciting multi-disciplinary community.

All of these initiatives create further opportunities for interaction and learning between all communities who wish to develop greater use of evidence across the social care and health.

We look forward to working with sector leaders to support improved evidence use in social work policy and practice. Please do share your suggestions with us by email to

Read the full report: Enabling better use of evidence in social work policy and practice: A BASW/NIHR roundtable discussion

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