Scientific Rating Scale

The purpose of the CEBC Scientific Rating scale is to evaluate each practice based on the available research evidence. A lower score indicates a greater level of research support. The graphic representation of the scale is shown below:

5 Point Graph
Specific criteria for each classification system category are presented below:

1. Well-Supported by Research Evidence

    1. Multiple Site Replication and Follow-up:
      • At least two rigorous randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with nonoverlapping analytic samples that were carried out in usual care or practice settings have found the program to be superior to an appropriate comparison program on outcomes specified in the criteria for that particular topic area.
      • In at least one of these RCTs, the program has shown to have a sustained effect at least one year beyond the end of treatment, when compared to a control group.
      • The RCTs have been reported in published, peer-reviewed literature.
    1. Outcome measures must be reliable and valid, and administered consistently and accurately across all subjects.
    2. The overall weight of the published, peer-reviewed research evidence supports the benefit of the program for the outcomes specified in the criteria for that particular topic area.
    3. There is no case data suggesting a risk of harm that: a) was probably caused by the program and b) was severe or frequent.
    4. There is no legal or empirical basis suggesting that, compared to its likely benefits, the program constitutes a risk of harm to those receiving it.
    5. The program has a book, manual, and/or other available writings that specify components of the service and describe how to administer it.

2. Supported by Research Evidence

    1. Randomized Controlled Trial and Follow-up:
      • At least one rigorous randomized controlled trial (RCT) that was carried out in a usual care or practice setting has found the program to be superior to an appropriate comparison program outcomes specified in the criteria for that particular topic area.
      • In that same RCT, the program has shown to have a sustained effect of at least six months beyond the end of treatment, when compared to a control group.
      • That same RCT has been reported in published, peer-reviewed literature.
    1. Outcome measures must be reliable and valid, and administered consistently and accurately across all subjects.
    2. The overall weight of the published, peer-reviewed research evidence supports the benefit of the program for the outcomes specified in the criteria for that particular topic area.
    3. There is no case data suggesting a risk of harm that: a) was probably caused by the program and b) was severe or frequent.
    4. There is no legal or empirical basis suggesting that, compared to its likely benefits, the program constitutes a risk of harm to those receiving it.
    5. The program has a book, manual, and/or other available writings that specify the components of the service and describe how to administer it.

3. Promising Research Evidence

    1. At least one study utilizing some form of control (e.g., untreated group, placebo group, matched wait list study) and reported in published, peer-reviewed literature has done one of the following:
      • Established the program’s benefit over the control on outcomes specified in the criteria for that particular topic area.
      • Found it to be comparable on outcomes specified in the criteria for that particular topic area to a program rated a 1, 2, or 3 on this rating scale in the same topic area.
      • Found it to be superior on outcomes specified in the criteria for that particular topic area to an appropriate comparison program.
    1. Outcome measures must be reliable and valid, and administered consistently and accurately across all subjects.
    2. The overall weight of the published, peer-reviewed research evidence supports the benefit of the program for the outcomes specified in the criteria for that particular topic area.
    3. There is no case data suggesting a risk of harm that: a) was probably caused by the program and b) was severe or frequent.
    4. There is no legal or empirical basis suggesting that, compared to its likely benefits, the program constitutes a risk of harm to those receiving it.
    5. The program has a book, manual, and/or other available writings that specify the components of the service and describe how to administer it.

4. Evidence Fails to Demonstrate Effect

    1. Two or more randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with nonoverlapping analytic samples that were carried out in usual care or practice settings have found that the program has not resulted in improved outcomes specified in the criteria for that particular topic area, when compared to usual care. The studies have been reported in published, peer-reviewed literature.
    2. The overall weight of evidence does not support the benefit of the program on the outcomes specified in the criteria for that particular topic area. 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 effect on outcomes specified in the criteria for that particular topic area, then the program would be rated a "4 - Evidence Fails to Demonstrate Effect."
    3. Outcome measures must be reliable and valid, and administered consistently and accurately across all subjects.
    4. There is no case data suggesting a risk of harm that: a) was probably caused by the program and b) was severe or frequent.
    5. There is no legal or empirical basis suggesting that, compared to its likely benefits, the program constitutes a risk of harm to those receiving it.
    6. The program has a book, manual, and/or other available writings that specify the components of the service and describe how to administer it.

5. Concerning Practice

    1. One or more of the following statements about the program is true:
      • If multiple outcome studies have been conducted, the overall weight of the evidence suggests the program has a negative effect on the target population being served or on outcomes specified in the criteria for that particular topic area.
      • There is case data suggesting a risk of harm that: a) was probably caused by the program and b) was severe or frequent.
      • There is a legal or empirical basis suggesting that, compared to its likely benefits, the program constitutes a risk of harm to those receiving it.
    1. The program has a book, manual, and/or other available writings that specify the components of the service and describe how to administer it.

NR. Not able to be Rated on the CEBC Scientific Rating Scale

    1. The program 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 program’s benefit over the control on outcomes specified in the criteria for that particular topic area, or found it to be comparable to or better than an appropriate comparison program on outcomes specified in the criteria for that particular topic area.
    2. The program is generally accepted in child and/or family serving systems as appropriate for use with children receiving services from child welfare or related systems and/or their parents/caregivers.
    3. The program does not meet criteria for any other level on the CEBC Scientific Rating Scale.
    4. There is no case data suggesting a risk of harm that: a) was probably caused by the program and b) was severe or frequent.
    5. There is no legal or empirical basis suggesting that, compared to its likely benefits, the program constitutes a risk of harm to those receiving it.
    6. The program has a book, manual, and/or other available writings that specify the components of the service and describe how to administer it.

The research evidence for programs listed in the NR category cannot be established at this time. This does not mean that the programs are ineffective, but rather that there is no research evidence available on their effectiveness that meets the criteria for any other level on the CEBC Scientific Rating Scale.

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


A one-page printable Overview of the CEBC Scientific Rating Scale information sheet is also available.

Please go to the CEBC Review Process page for a description of the review process, from picking the topic areas to rating the programs and loading them on the website.

Date page last revised: 5/13/2019