Evidence-Based Practice in Nonprofit Human Service Organizations Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Despard, Mathieu
    • Affiliation: School of Social Work
  • Engaging in evidence-based practice (EBP) is one of the key ways nonprofit human service organizations (NPHSOs) can improve programs to better respond to community needs. However, to identify, adapt, implement, and sustain EBPs requires capacity, which many smaller NPHSOs lack in areas like evaluation. Capacity-building may help NPHSOs further engage in EBP, yet more knowledge is needed concerning valid ways to measure NPHSO capacity and the impacts of capacity-building related to EBP. The aims of this study are to 1) develop a model with testable hypotheses concerning the effect of organizational factors on EBP engagement in NPHSOs; 2) identify a valid way to measure NPHSO capacity; and 3) assess NPHSO capacity-building outcomes related to EBP engagement. In Chapter 1, a brief overview of the key challenges confronting NPHSOs is provided. EBP is reviewed as a promising strategy for confronting these challenges and discussed in relation to NPHSO characteristics. In Chapter 2, a conceptual model explaining EBP engagement as the use of best available evidence to inform programming decisions in NPHSOs is presented. Research evidence concerning capacity and readiness factors which promote EBP engagement is reviewed. The perceived advantage of EBP engagement and alignment of evidence with NPHSOs' mission and capacity are presented as factors mediating the relationship between readiness and EBP engagement. In Chapter 3, confirmatory factor analysis is used to test the fit of three different models for measuring NPHSO capacity. A model with four sub-scales related to resource development, program development, management, and governance capacity fit the data well, while two models with a larger number of items assessing organizational performance did not. In Chapter 4, the effects of capacity-building on evaluation in NPHSOs are assessed using subset efficacy analysis. NPHSOs that received evaluation-related capacity-building assistance experienced statistically significant gains in four of five evaluation capacities compared to a control group after controlling for organizational characteristics, motivation to receive assistance, and amount of financial assistance. Lastly, in Chapter 5, key findings are synthesized, limitations are delineated, and practice, policy, and research implications are described.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Rounds, Kathleen
  • Howard, Matthew O.
  • Kelley, Thomas, III
  • Chowa, Gina
  • Nelson, Gary
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2015
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
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