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Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs

The Journal of Nordic Centre for Welfare and Social Issues

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Implementing guidelines for substance abuse treatment: a critical discussion of "Knowledge to Practice"

Patrik Karlsson1 / Anders Bergmark1

Dept. of social work, Stockholm University1

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Citation Information: Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Volume 29, Issue 3, Pages 253–265, ISSN (Online) 1458-6126, ISSN (Print) 1455-0725, DOI: 10.2478/v10199-012-0017-8, June 2012

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Implementing guidelines for substance abuse treatment: a critical discussion of "Knowledge to Practice"

AIMS - We critically discuss the campaign "Knowledge to Practice". A popular assumption within the evidence-based practice (EBP) framework is that guidelines for best practices are useful for increasing the inflow of research into practice. In Sweden, an initiative known as "Knowledge to Practice" (KTP) has since 2008 been devoted to implementing the National Board of Health and Welfare's guidelines for substance abuse treatment in practice. MATERIAL - Our critical discussion is based on an analysis of available documents describing the KTP campaign. RESULTS - We argue that the implementation process is marred with problems all the way from the beginning, where the guidelines are produced, to the final stage of local "adoption". The vague character of the guidelines coupled with unclear usages of key concepts such as "service user involvement" and EBP as well as a perspective of EBP that in certain respects undermine the legitimacy of its own mission lead us to raise serious doubt about KTP. CONCLUSSIONS - We conclude that KTP can be seen as a clear example of a general unawareness of the two main, largely incompatible "models" of EBP identified in the literature. Further, KTP may as a consequence of this have had the unintended effect of disseminating vague and unclear conceptions of EBP to practitioners.

Keywords: Evidence-based practice; guidelines for best practice; substance abuse treatment critique; Knowledge to Practice; Sweden

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Patrik Karlsson and Anders Bergmark
Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 2012, Volume 29, Number 3

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