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SOCW 553: Research Knowledge and Evidence in Clinical Social Work Practice

Overview of evidence-based practice, literature review/systematic review workflows, and citation management for your written EBP assignment.

Evidence Synthesis

Evidence synthesis is a type of secondary research created for use in evidence-based practice, specifically when primary research studies and grey literature are combined to create a synthesis of evidence. 

According to the Royal Society, "‘evidence synthesis’ refers to the process of bringing together information from a range of sources and disciplines to inform debates and decisions on specific issues. Decision-making and public debate are best served if policymakers have access to the best current evidence on an issue. An accurate, concise and unbiased synthesis of the evidence is therefore one of the most valuable contributions the research community can offer policymakers."

This type of synthesis goes beyond a traditional literature review, advocating for strong methods and unbiased information gathering, to ensure that all available scholarly research is included.

Types of Evidence Synthesis

The following are some examples of evidence syntheses:

  • Systematic Review (see more on the following page in this guide)
  • Scoping Review
  • Rapid Review
  • Umbrella Review
  • Meta-Analysis  

For further reading: 

Grant, M. J., & Booth, A. (2009). A typology of reviews: An analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 26(2), 91-108.

Temple University Libraries. (2020, Aug 5). Systematic reviews & other review types

Cornell University Library. (2020, Aug 6). Types of evidence synthesis

Cornell University Library. (n.d.). What type of review is right for you?

Sutton, A., Clowes, M., Preston, L., & Booth, A. (2019). Meeting the review family: Exploring review types and associated information retrieval requirements. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 36(3), 202-222.

Example Evidence Syntheses


Loong, D., Bonato, S., Barnsley, J., & Dewa, C. S. (2019). The effectiveness of mental health courts in reducing recidivism and police contact: A systematic review. Community Mental Health Journal, 55, 1073-1098. doi: 10.1007/s10597-019-00421-9


Brack, P., & Shields, N. (2019). Short duration clinically-based interprofessional shadowing and patient review activities may have a role in preparing health professional students to practice collaboratively: A systematic literature review. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 33(5), 446-455. doi: 10.1080/13561820.2018.1543256

Loomis, A. M., Feely, M., & Kennedy, S. (2020). Measuring self-reported polyvictimization in foster youth research: A systematic review. Child Abuse & Neglect, 107, 104588.

Xie, Q.-W., Dai, X., Tang, X., Chan, C. H.-Y., & Chan, C. L. W. (2019). Risk of mental disorders in children and adolescents with atopic dermatitis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Frontiers in Psychology10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01773


Gonzalex, F. R., Benuto, L. T., & Casas, J. B. (2018). Prevalence of interpersonal violence among Latinas: A systematic review. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/1524838018806507

Guo, M., & Stensland, M. (2018). A systematic review of correlates of depression among older Chinese and Korean immigrants: What we know and do not know. Aging & Mental Health, 22(12), 1535-1547. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2017.1383971

OlcoƄ, K., Gilbert, D. J., & Pulliam, R. M. (2020). Teaching about racial and ethnic diversity in social work education: A systematic review. Journal of Social Work Education, 56(2), 215-237. doi: 10.1080/10437797.2019.1656578

Somogyi, B. K., Barker, M., MacLean, C., & Grischkan, P. (2015). Inuit elderly: A systematic review of peer reviewed journal articles. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 58(5), 484-502. doi: 10.1080/01634372.2015.1032469

Sumalinog, R., Harrington, K., Dosani, N., & Hwang, S. W. (2017). Advance care planning, palliative care, and end-of-life care interventions for homeless people: A systematic review. Palliative Medicine, 31(2), 109-119. doi: 10.1177/0269216316649334


Rumping, S., Boendermaker, L., & de Ruyter, D. J. (2019). Stimulating interdisciplinary collaboration among youth social workers: A scoping review. Health & Social Care, 27(2), 293-305. doi: 10.1111/hsc.12589


Campbell, J., Theodoros, D., Hartley, N., Russell, T., & Gillespie, N. (2019). Implementation factors are neglected in research investigating telehealth delivery of allied health services to rural children: A scoping review. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/1357633X19856472

Fernando, T., & Bennett, B. (2019). Creating a culturally safe space when teaching Aboriginal content in social work: A scoping review. Australian Social Work, 72(1), 47-61. doi: 10.1080/0312407X.2018.1518467

Langevin, R., Marshall, C., & Kinsland, E. (2019). Intergenerational cycles of maltreatment: A scoping review of psychosocial risk and protective factors. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/1524838019870917

Villarreal-Otálora, T., Jennings, P., & Mowbray, O. (2019). Clinical interventions to reduce suicidal behaviors in Hispanic adolescents: A scoping review. Research on Social Work Practice, 29(8), 924-938. doi: 10.1177/1049731519832100

Wirth, T., Mette, J., Prill, J., Harth, V., & Nienhaus, A. (2019). Working conditions, mental health and coping of staff in social work with refugees and homeless individuals: A scoping review. Health & Social Care, 27(4), e257-e269.  10.1111/hsc.12730


Cassidy, A., & Weng Cheong Poon, A. (2019). A scoping review of family-based interventions in drug and alcohol services: Implications for social work practice. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, 19(4), 345-367. doi: 10.1080/1533256X.2019.1659068

Chan, C. (2016). A scoping review of social media use in social work practice. Journal of Evidence-Informed Social Work, 13(3), 263-276. doi: 10.1080/23761407.2015.1052908

Mantell, A., Simpson, G. K., Vungkhanching, M., Jones, K. F., Strandberg, T., & Simonson, P. (2018). Social work-generated evidence in traumatic brain injury from 1975-2014: A systematic scoping review. Health & Social Care, 26(4), 433-448. doi: 10.1111/hsc.12476

Wittenberg, Y., Kwekkeboom, R., Staaks, J., Verhoeff, A., & de Boer, A. (2018). Informal caregivers' views on the division of responsibilities between themselves and professionals: A scoping review. Health & Social Care, 26(4), e460-473. 10.1111/hsc.12529


Sethi, B. (2016). Health experiences of immigrant visible minority women: A literature review. Journal of Evidence-Informed Social Work, 13(6), 523-534.


Burgess, D., & Shier, M. L. (2018). Food insecurity and social work: A comprehensive literature review. International Social Work, 61(6), 826-842.

Lee, M. Y., Wang, X., Liu, C., Raheim, S., & Tebb, S. (2018). Outcome literature review of integrative body-mind-spirit practices for mental health conditions. Social Work Research, 42(3), 251-266. doi: 10.1093/swr/svy018