Prevention Science

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 53–64 | Cite as

Cultural Adaptation of Promising, Evidence-Based, and Best Practices: a Scoping Literature Review

  • Michael ThierEmail author
  • Charles R. MartinezJr.
  • Fahad Alresheed
  • Sloan Storie
  • Amanda Sasaki
  • McKenzie Meline
  • Jonathan Rochelle
  • Lauren Witherspoon
  • Huna Yim-Dockery


This scoping literature review of nearly 5,000 peer-reviewed articles from myriad disciplines examines usage of two sets of terms that are common to many researchers, but arcane to many practitioners. Aiming to inform researchers about how scholarly literature that invokes these terms might speak to practitioners, and resulting implications for practice, we review scholarly use of three practice designations (promising, evidence-based, best) and five cultural considerations for those practices (adaptation, competence, modification, responsiveness, specificity). In addition to scoping review methods, we apply social cartography and definitional traces. Findings drive our contention that “promising practice” is the designation that might provide practitioners with the most utility, rather than the frequent—often-unarticulated—uses of best and evidence-based. Likewise, we find copious evidence of cultural considerations being invoked without operationalization. Social cartography reveals few international partnerships and limited domestic leadership among ‘leading’ research institutions regarding the intersection of practice designations and cultural considerations. Themes from the definitional trace prompt us to invite scholarly debate about a ladder from ‘promising’ to ‘evidence-based’ to ‘best’ and to prompt researchers’ efforts to transfer knowledge to practitioners.


Cultural adaptation Evidence-based practice Best practice Promising practice Scoping literature review 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11121_2019_1042_MOESM1_ESM.docx (41 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 41 kb)
11121_2019_1042_MOESM2_ESM.pptx (42 kb)
ESM 2 (PPTX 41 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Thier
    • 1
    Email author
  • Charles R. MartinezJr.
    • 1
    • 2
  • Fahad Alresheed
    • 3
  • Sloan Storie
    • 4
  • Amanda Sasaki
    • 1
  • McKenzie Meline
    • 5
  • Jonathan Rochelle
    • 5
  • Lauren Witherspoon
    • 1
  • Huna Yim-Dockery
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Educational Methodology, Policy and LeadershipUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA
  2. 2.University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  3. 3.Center for Behavioral Sciences IncIrvineUSA
  4. 4.University of North Carolina at CharlotteCharlotteUSA
  5. 5.Department of Special Education and Clinical Sciences University of OregonEugeneUSA

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