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Scientific Rating Scale

Click here to go to the "How Are Programs Reviewed on the CEBC?" page for a description of the review process from picking the topic areas to rating the programs and loading them on the website. Two related video tutorials are available on the Video Tutorials page: CEBC Process for Reviewing Programs and the CEBC Scientific Rating Scale.

The purpose of the CEBC Scientific Rating scale is to evaluate each practice based on the available research evidence. The topic area expert assists with identifying practices that meet the following criteria:

  • Programs that have strong empirical support.
  • Programs that are in common use in California.
  • Programs that are being marketed in California.

A lower score indicates a greater level of research support. The graphic representation of the scale is shown below:

5 Point Graph

Adjustments to a program's rating are made on an on-going basis as new research is published, if applicable. The CEBC conducts periodic re-reviews to look for new published, peer-reviewed research on already rated programs. Program representatives are also welcome to submit new published, peer-reviewed studies to initiate the re-review process at any time. Specific criteria for each classification system category are presented below:

1. Well-Supported by Research Evidence

  • There is no case data suggesting a risk of harm that: a) was probably caused by the treatment and b) the harm was severe or frequent.
  • There is no legal or empirical basis suggesting that, compared to its likely benefits, the practice constitutes a risk of harm to those receiving it.
  • The practice has a book, manual, and/or other available writings that specify components of the service and describe how to administer it.
  • Multiple Site Replication: At least two rigorous randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in different usual care or practice settings have found the practice to be superior to an appropriate comparison practice. The RCTs have been reported in published, peer-reviewed literature.
  • In at least one RCT, the practice has shown to have a sustained effect at least one year beyond the end of treatment, when compared to a control group.
  • Outcome measures must be reliable and valid, and administered consistently and accurately across all subjects.
  • If multiple outcome studies have been published, the overall weight of the evidence supports the benefit of the practice.

2. Supported by Research Evidence

  • There is no case data suggesting a risk of harm that: a) was probably caused by the treatment and b) the harm was severe or frequent.
  • There is no legal or empirical basis suggesting that, compared to its likely benefits, the practice constitutes a risk of harm to those receiving it.
  • The practice has a book, manual, and/or other available writings that specify the components of the practice protocol and describe how to administer it.
  • At least one rigorous randomized controlled trial (RCT) in usual care or a practice setting has found the practice to be superior to an appropriate comparison practice. The RCT has been reported in published, peer-reviewed literature.
  • In at least one RCT, the practice has shown to have a sustained effect of at least six months beyond the end of treatment, when compared to a control group.
  • Outcome measures must be reliable and valid, and administered consistently and accurately across all subjects.
  • If multiple outcome studies have been published, the overall weight of evidence supports the benefit of the practice.

3. Promising Research Evidence

  • There is no case data suggesting a risk of harm that: a) was probably caused by the treatment and b) the harm was severe or frequent.
  • There is no legal or empirical basis suggesting that, compared to its likely benefits, the practice constitutes a risk of harm to those receiving it.
  • The practice has a book, manual, and/or other available writings that specify the components of the practice protocol and describe how to administer it.
  • At least one study utilizing some form of control (e.g., untreated group, placebo group, matched wait list study) has established the practice's benefit over the control, or found it to be comparable to a practice rated a 1, 2, or 3 on this rating scale or superior to an appropriate comparison practice. The study has been reported in published, peer-reviewed literature.
  • Outcome measures must be reliable and valid, and administered consistently and accurately across all subjects.
  • If multiple outcome studies have been conducted, the overall weight of evidence supports the benefit of the practice.

4. Evidence Fails to Demonstrate Effect

  • Two or more randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have found the practice has not resulted in improved outcomes, when compared to usual care. The studies have been reported in published, peer-reviewed literature.
  • If multiple outcome studies have been conducted, the overall weight of evidence does not support the benefit of the practice. The overall weight of evidence is based on the preponderance of published, peer-reviewed studies, and not a systematic review or meta-analysis. For example, if there have been three published RCTs and two of them showed the program did not have the desired effect, then the program would be rated a "4 - Evidence Fails to Demonstrate Effect."

5. Concerning Practice

  • If multiple outcome studies have been conducted, the overall weight of evidence suggests the intervention has a negative effect upon clients served; and/or
  • There is case data suggesting a risk of harm that: a) was probably caused by the treatment and b) the harm was severe or frequent; and/or
  • There is a legal or empirical basis suggesting that, compared to its likely benefits, the practice constitutes a risk of harm to those receiving it.

NR. Not able to be Rated

  • There is no case data suggesting a risk of harm that: a) was probably caused by the treatment and b) the harm was severe or frequent.
  • There is no legal or empirical basis suggesting that, compared to its likely benefits, the practice constitutes a risk of harm to those receiving it.
  • The practice has a book, manual, and/or other available writings that specify the components of the practice protocol and describe how to administer it.
  • The practice is generally accepted in clinical practice as appropriate for use with children receiving services from child welfare or related systems and their parents/caregivers.
  • The practice does not have any published, peer-reviewed study utilizing some form of control (e.g., untreated group, placebo group, matched wait list study) that has established the practice's benefit over the placebo, or found it to be comparable to or better than an appropriate comparison practice.
  • The practice does not meet criteria for any other level on the CEBC Scientific Rating Scale.

The "Not able to be Rated" category was added in January 2009. For more information about this change to the rating scale, please click here.

Provisional Rating

After the programs have been reviewed and rated, a provisional rating will be provided for 60 days. If you would like to respond to the Scientific Rating, please submit feedback via the Contact CEBC page.


The Scientific Rating Scale was revised in January 2009. Click here to see why.