Clinical and Counselling Psychology Student Attitudes and Receptiveness towards Evidence-Based Practice
Evidence-based practice (EBP) has been internationally recognised as the gold standard for the provision of safe and compassionate health care, and entails integrating clinical expertise with the best available research evidence in order to make effective decisions about the care of patients. The adoption of EBP remains slow, and this has been identified as a significant public health concern as few people with mental disorders in South Africa are treated using evidence-based psychological treatments (EBTs). Proponents of EBP have argued that the most effective way of sustaining the use of EBTs is by adopting EBP as a guiding pedagogical principle in professional psychology training programmes. For such efforts to be successful, it is pertinent to assess the receptiveness of the target population. Attitudes towards EBP remain the top indicator of successful adoption. The current study explored the attitudes and receptiveness towards EBP among clinical and counselling psychology students (N=57) at 11 accredited institutions nationally. Participation in the study was voluntary and the procedure followed all ethical requirements. All data collection occurred online. Participants completed a general questionnaire, the Evidence-Based Practice Attitudes Scale-15 (EBPAS-15) and the Organisational Culture and Readiness for System-wide Integration of Evidence-based Practice (OCRSIEP) Scale All data collection instruments demonstrated sound psychometric properties. A major finding of this study was that clinical and counselling psychology students reported favourable attitudes and receptiveness towards the adoption of EBP. The overall score on the EBPAS-15 indicated that students were likely to adopt EBP, while results on the ORCSIEP overall score indicated that they were receptive towards EBP and were ready to adopt EBP. An exploration of the association between attitudes and receptiveness towards EBP indicated that no correlation exists. Additionally, factors such as age, gender, psychology programme enrolment and preferred therapeutic orientation were not significantly associated with attitudes and receptiveness towards EBP. In conclusion, the results of this study suggest that there is a sound foundation on which to incorporate EBP into the professional training programmes of psychology students.