Impressions of “Evidence-Based Practice”: A Direct-to-Consumer Survey of Caregivers Concerned About Adolescent Substance Use

Sara J. Becker*, Brittany J. Weeks, Katherine I. Escobar, Oswaldo Moreno, Cathryn R. DeMarco, Shelly A. Gresko

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


National behavioral health organizations have recently started using direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing strategies as a means of promoting increased utilization of evidence-based practice (EBP). Such strategies often encourage patients and caregivers to proactively seek out EBP, based on the assumptions that patients and caregivers understand the concept and view it favorably. We conducted a DTC marketing survey of caregivers concerned about their adolescents’ substance use in order to explore how these caregivers define, value, and prefer to describe the EBP concept. We also examined whether caregiver perceptions of EBP vary by sociodemographic (race/ethnicity, income per capital, education level) and clinical (adolescent’s history of therapy) characteristics. A total of 411 caregivers (86% women, 88% non-Hispanic White) of adolescents ages 12–19 (M age = 16.1, SD = 1.8, 82% non-Hispanic White) completed an online survey. Caregivers answered a series of questions evaluating assumed definitions of EBP, underlying EBP principles, the appeal of EBP, and alternate terms to describe EBP. Chi-square analyses and multivariate logistic regressions were used to examine which variables were associated with the greatest likelihood of response selection. Results indicated that most parents defined EBP correctly, valued EBP principles, and found EBP appealing. However, caregivers from racial/ethnic minority groups, with lower income per capita and lower education, were more likely to define EBP incorrectly and have negative impressions of the concept. Education level was the strongest and most consistent predictor of caregiver perceptions. Clinical implications for the development of targeted, accessible marketing messages are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-80
Number of pages11
JournalEvidence-Based Practice in Child and Adolescent Mental Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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