Decision-making and social work in Scotland

The role of evidence and practice wisdom
Published on 22 Sep 2011

This report presents the results of a small qualitative study undertaken between February and March 2011. It considers the role of evidence in decision making around risk in social work and what affects this process.

The research aims to shed light on the relationship between evidence and practice wisdom (as an evidence type or integrating vehicle) or professional judgement, and how this relationship shapes decision making.

We allowed key themes to emerge from the data with a view to investigating the following issues:

  • What constitutes evidence for social workers?
  • How do social workers make sense of the multiple sources of evidence available to them?
  • Does decision-making change in situations where the evidence available is not of ideal quality or the circumstances around the investigation are limiting?
  • What, if anything, affects decision-making other than the available evidence?
  • How aware are social workers of their own decision-making processes?
  • What can the above issues tell us about practice wisdom?