Provider resistance to evidence-based practice in schools Why it happens and how to plan for it in evaluations

By Lissette M. Saavedra, Antonio A. Morgan-Lopez, Anna Catherine Yaros, Alex Buben, James V. Trudeau

Evidence-based practice is often encouraged in most service delivery settings, yet a substantial body of research indicates that service providers often show resistance or limited adherence to such practices. Resistance to the uptake of evidence-based treatments and programs is well-documented in several fields, including nursing, dentistry, counseling, and other mental health services. This research brief discusses the reasons behind provider resistance, with a contextual focus on mental health service provision in school settings. Recommendations are to attend to resistance in the preplanning proposal stage, during early implementation training stages, and in cases in which insufficient adherence or low fidelity related to resistance leads to implementation failure. Directions for future research include not only attending to resistance but also moving toward client-centered approaches grounded in the evidence base.


Saavedra, L. M., Morgan-Lopez, A. A., Yaros, A. C., Buben, A., & Trudeau, J. V. (2019). Provider resistance to evidence-based practice in schools: Why it happens and how to plan for it in evaluations. (RTI Press Publication No. RB-0020-1905). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press.

© 2019 RTI International. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Lissette M. SaavedraLissette M. Saavedra, PhD, is a research psychologist in the Mental Health, Risk and Resilience Research Program at RTI International.

Antonio A. Morgan-Lopez

Anna Catherine YarosAnna C. Yaros, PhD, is the program manager of the Mental Health, Risk, and Resilience Research Program at RTI International.

Alex BubenAlex Buben, BA, is a public health analyst in the Substance Use, Prevention, Evaluation and Research Program at RTI International.

James V. TrudeauJames V. Trudeau, PhD, is a chief scientist in the Applied Justice Research at RTI International.

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