The Challenge of Measuring Effectiveness in Social Work: A Case Study of an Evaluation of a Drug and Alcohol Referral Service in Scotland

V. E. Cree, S. Jain, P. Hillen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article explores the challenge of measuring effectiveness in social work, building from an evaluation of a service for those with drug- and alcohol-related problems in Scotland conducted in 2012. Drug and alcohol misuse have long been recognised as major issues for the Scottish economy, health service and population, affecting high numbers of individuals, families and communities in Scotland. For this reason, it is vital that the services provided give ‘best value’ for service users and the country as a whole. But what is an effective service and how might this be measured? We will argue that demonstrating social work effectiveness is always difficult, but that the complex and interconnected nature of drug and alcohol problems makes it even more difficult to isolate the effectiveness of one intervention from another and from the context in which it is located. This suggests that, as we move forward, we need an approach to evaluation that acknowledges the systems within which individuals and services are operating (see Forrester et al., 2013), as well as the inevitably political nature of all evaluation (Gray et al., 2009).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-293
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Volume46
Issue number1
Early online date29 Oct 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • EVALUATION
  • DRUG-ABUSE
  • Alcohol Abuse
  • RECOVERY
  • social work

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