• A comparison of verbal interaction and help-giving activities in leaderless self-help support groups and professionally-led support groups

      Haran, Judith F.; Ephross, Paul H. (1992)
      This study compared professionally-led support groups and leaderless self-help support groups to examine whether the presence or absence of a leader in the group made a difference in verbal interaction and member-to-member helping behaviors. This study utilized a comparative design and paired ten professionally-led groups with ten leaderless groups. Through the use of audio-tapes, group process was examined for differences in verbal interaction using the Hill Interaction Matrix. Members's perceptions of helping behaviors occurring in group meetings were measured with the Helping Processes Questionnaire. Members of the leaderless groups focused more on common interest topics while members of the professionally-led groups concentrated on personal topics, indicating that members may feel more comfortable sharing personal information in the presence of a trained leader, or that leaders more strongly encouraged the sharing of personal material. Members of the professionally-led groups did not focus on the group as a whole and avoided discussion of group tasks, processes, or intergroup relationships. The professionally-led groups had more risk-taking interactions, indicating that members felt comfortable enough to share their situations and confront other members. Within both types of groups, the most frequently occurring help-giving activities were behavioral prescription, normalization, encouragement of sharing and explanation. The least frequently occurring activities were requesting feedback, punishment, and extinction. Members of leaderless groups gave significantly higher ratings for encouragement of sharing, self-disclosure, establishment of group goals, assertion of group norms and mutual affirmation. According to the findings, professional leadership did not make a major difference in the verbal interactions and helping activities occurring in parent support groups. The findings also demonstrate the need for additional content about group dynamics and small group theory in social work education.
    • An ecological approach to reducing child maltreatment

      Mann, Linda Neunlist; Goldmeier, John (1991)
      This study was conducted to determine the effect of a parent training program on maltreating parents. The program was a brief intervention, based on the ecological model of child maltreatment, using both group and class sessions and was designed to provide parenting information and knowledge. The expectation was that at the end of the twelve-week program, the parents would increase in the parenting knowledge and skills, thereby increasing their parenting abilities and decreasing the likelihood that they would abuse or neglect their children. The study used three objective instruments in an attempt to measure changes in the parents' child abuse potential, levels of depression, and appraisal of social support. More than half of the subjects dropped out of the program prior to completion and a large number of the participants did not provide valid information on the three objective measures. However, in spite of these problems, the data analysis indicated that there were significant differences between the subjects' pre- and post-test scores, suggesting that participation in the parent training program had a positive benefit for a majority of the participants. The study findings indicate that, following the intervention, the parents had reduced levels of depression, reduced levels of child abuse potential, and increased appraisals of social support. In addition, there were significant differences between the participants who completed the program and those who dropped out and between the participants who provided valid information on the measures and those who provided invalid information. The study findings can be useful for social workers who are involved in planning and designing programs for maltreating parents and the findings suggest that parent training programs can be a beneficial intervention in efforts to reduce child maltreatment.
    • The effect of negative self-referential mood and depression upon creative processes related to change in psychotherapy

      Blundo, Robert George; Altstein, Howard (1992)
      The present study uses the creative processing of information as a means of understanding the cognitive processes involved in therapeutic change during a depressive episode. The focus was on the consequences of cognitive content and moods on the enhancement or inhibition of the creative processing of information. It was hypothesized that the negative self-referential cognitive content associated with depression would inhibit the processing of information creatively. The first Study looked at the effect of induced negative and positive self-referential content and mood, negative and positive content and mood related to viewing the circumstances of others, and the effect of high and low arousal. Female student volunteers (105) were randomly assigned to one of these seven inductions and then completed the Remote Associates Test. The findings did not show a significant difference between these conditions. A Pearson correlation demonstrated a marginal relationship between subjects who reported their moods as negative and lower creative performance. To determine if naturally occurring negative self-referential thoughts would inhibit creativity, a second group of subjects were assigned to either the dysphoric or nondysphoric group based on their initial Beck Depression Inventory scores. To determine if this hypothesized inhibiting negative content could be reversed, one half of both the dysphoric and nondysphoric subjects were assigned to a positive self-referential induction prior to completing the creative task. A third group of subjects who had scored dysphoric during the initial screening were found to have scored nondysphoric when they completed the creativity task. No significant differences were found between the three groups. Contrasts demonstrated that those subjects in the third group undergoing affect-repair and who had received the positive induction performed significantly better than group members who had not received the positive induction. This suggests that interventions that enhance or help initiate affect-repair could benefit depressed individuals. Limitations suggest that the concept of creativity may be too general a description of more specific cognitive processes that are biasing in their effect. Change might best be considered the process of overcoming these biases. Future research might consider how this takes place.
    • Evaluating family preservation services from a community well-being perspective: A time series analysis of Virginia's Comprehensive Services Act for At Risk Youth and Families

      Templeman, Sharon B.; Harrington, Donna (1998)
      Measuring family preservation outcomes has challenged child welfare professionals, policymakers, and researchers for over a decade. Most agree that a change from the traditional service delivery model was warranted, but there is little agreement on a model to replace the traditional model. Defining family preservation services, determining what outcome measures to use other than out of home placement prevention, and deciding how to measure effectiveness are at the center of the debate. This pilot study addresses all three of these issues. In 1993, Virginia was the first state in the US to uniformly legislate a family preservation service system of care. Using the flexible, community-specific, wraparound definition of family preservation services espoused by Virginia's Comprehensive Services Act for At Risk Youth and Families (SA), this study examines the impact of family preservation services on 23 rural Virginia communities. With the community as the unit of analysis and through the use of a hierarchical linear model analysis, four predictors of community well being (low birth weight, school drop out, births to girls, and poverty) were compared with five factors traditionally considered to be risks for children (early school failure, juvenile arrests, child maltreatment, violent teen deaths, and foster care placement). In a time series design, these comparisons were made at six points in time: two years prior to implementation of the CSA, the year the CSA was implemented, and three years after implementation of CSA legislation. The findings in this pilot study demonstrated that the community is an appropriate unit of analysis to study but that evaluation of individual success must also be considered. School drop out rate was found to be a statistically significant predictor of early school failure. Low birth weight and poverty were found to be statistically significant predictors of foster care placement. Measuring change through the use of the two-level hierarchical linear model appears to be a promising model compared to analyses more commonly used in time series designs. Low power due to small sample size and only three years under a new service paradigm signal the need for further study using larger samples and a longer period of observation.
    • An evaluation of one method of enhancing the perceived control of spinal cord injured patients in a rehabilitation hospital

      Fiedler, Katherine E.; Varghese, Raju (1995)
      A longitudinal quasi-experimental design was used to assess the efficacy of a psychoeducational group intervention to enhance the perceived control of spinal cord injured patients during their initial rehabilitation. The treatment and contrast groups consisted of thirty subjects each. It was hypothesized that the group intervention would enhance the subjects level of perceived control. It was further hypothesized that enhanced perceived control would result in increased compliance with a prescribed medical regimen and subsequently an improved rehabilitation outcome. The results of the study demonstrate that the group intervention was useful in increasing perceived control and these subjects were also shown to have greater improvement in rehabilitation outcome as measured by level of independence in activities of daily living. No significant relationship was found between level of perceived control and reported compliance with the medical regimen. Suggestions for further research included the construction of more valid and reliable instrumentation and replication of this study with other populations.
    • Hospital social workers and AIDS patients: Stressors, potency, burnout and physical symptoms

      Egan, Marcia; Oktay, Julianne S. (1991)
      This study examined a model of stress and cognitive appraisal as it applies to burnout in hospital social workers providing services to AIDS patients. The research was done in response to reports of the stresses on healthcare workers presented by the AIDS epidemic, and to calls in the burnout literature to examine coping responses in specific practice areas. Questionnaires were mailed to social workers in hospitals of over 350 beds in the ten states with the highest incidence of AIDS. The sample was comprised of 128 social workers who had provided services to 10 or more AIDS patients within the previous six months. The questionnaire measured background variables (demographic variables, work and practice characteristics), independent variables (stressors of practice with AIDS patients, potency and how difficult the social workers found their practice with AIDS patients) and dependent variables (burnout and physical symptoms). The research was guided by the theories of Lazarus, Maslach and Ben Sira. Univariate, bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to test hypothesized relationships between the dependent and independent variables. Background variables were used as controls. The analyses supported the hypotheses that stressors of practice with AIDS patients and difficulty in practice were correlated, and that potency interacts with stressors as they relate to difficulty. That is, in persons with high potency, the relationship between stressors and difficulty is lower than is the case in persons with low potency. The three measures of burnout were related to difficulty. Potency also had a strong direct effect on burnout and physical symptoms. The results suggest that potency is an important factor in burnout, and should be studied further. If substantiated in further research, the results imply that employers and educators need to develop strategies to increase the sense of mastery, self-confidence and faith in societal justness (potency) if they hope to decrease burnout in social workers who practice with AIDS patients.
    • Intrafamilial child sexual abuse: Characteristics that predict maternal belief and protective action among non-offending mothers

      Pintello, Denise Anne; Zuravin, Susan J., 1944- (2000)
      The primary purpose of this study was to examine characteristics that predict maternal belief and protective action among non-offending mothers of sexually abused children. Secondary objectives included identifying the proportion of mothers who believed, protected and performed various combinations of both maternal responses, and examination of the impact of belief and protection on child sexual abuse recurrence. Data were collected from 435 biological, non-offending mothers through case record abstraction and computerized database review. Descriptive statistics measured proportions of maternal belief and/or protection. Logistic regression identified predictors of belief, protection, the four combinations of maternal responses and sexual abuse recurrence. Results indicated that approximately half of the mothers believed and/or protected. Four distinct combinations of maternal responses were documented, suggesting that mothers are a heterogeneous group concerning postdisclosure belief and protection. Findings supported prior research indicating that mothers who were not current sexual partners of offenders were more likely to believe and protect. The absence of maternal substance abuse was also found to predict maternal protection. Study results failed to support prior studies reporting victim age, gender, prior physical abuse history, sexual abuse severity and offender substance abuse as significant predictors of belief and/or protection. This study extended new knowledge by identifying 18 new predictors. Mothers were more likely to protect when they postponed their first birth until adulthood and their children did not exhibit sexualized behaviors. Mothers with no prior knowledge about the abuse before disclosure were more likely to believe and protect. Mothers who were unemployed, and had a prior trauma history of domestic violence and/or childhood sexual abuse were more likely to believe, yet not take protective action. Finally, this study contributed to new knowledge by identifying maternal non-protection as a predictor of sexual abuse recurrence. Further study is recommended to investigate the longitudinal impact of maternal, child and situational predictors on belief protection and their association to sexual abuse recurrence. It is hoped that the empirical data generated from this study will enhance child welfare interventions by fortifying maternal belief and protection, which may ultimately reduce out-of-home placements, maltreatment recurrence, and the psychological trauma endured by sexually abused children.
    • Nonresidential father-child involvement: Fathers' and mothers' perspectives in acrimonious divorce relationships

      Snow, Robert James; Greif, Geoffrey L. (2002)
      Divorce has affected more than 1,000,000 children each year. Within two years of their parents' divorce, roughly 50% of children will have contact with their father less than twice per year. Using a symbolic interactionist theoretical framework, the purpose of this study was to expand the conceptualization of father-child involvement from the perspectives of divorced parental dyads and to identify the origins and mechanisms that promote and discourage paternal involvement. A convenience sample of nonresidential fathers was recruited from the state chapter of a national organization that promotes shared parenting. Mothers were recruited after the fathers agreed to participate. Seven matched parental dyads were interviewed separately on three occasions using the methodology of Glaser and Strauss's grounded theory and Lincoln and Guba's naturalistic inquiry. Applying the method of constant comparative analysis, the data were coded and categorized, themes and properties were identified and attached to categories, and working hypotheses were developed into grounded theory. Trustworthiness of the data was demonstrated through triangulation of the data, peer debriefing, and auditing of the data. Father-child involvement was a function of the interactive processes between parental definitions of self and other and the accompanying role expectations. Parental identity was formulated in the family of origin, supported by their social support network, and implemented with their children. Performance of their parental role without interference allowed them to formulate a "good parent identity" (GPI). Conflict arose when parents had disparate definitions and expectations of the other parents' role performance. Obstructions or threats to the enactment of the GPI created conflict between the parental dyads. Conflict escalated when parents saw themselves as victims of the other parents' behavior and they were unable to act in the best interest of their children. Parents maintained their GPI with various strategies including litigation, parent-child alliance building, parental alienation, and parental abduction of their children. These findings have strong implications at both the micro and macro levels of social work practice. Social workers can increase father-child involvement by protecting the GPI of both parents. Zealous advocacy of a parent may produce further harm to the client and the children involved by creating a threat to the other parent's GPI. Parents will employ extreme strategies to minimize intense threats to their GPI. Macro level interventions include the recommendations for parental and professional educational programs and policy development that will enhance GPI. Suggestions for social work education and further research are discussed. Findings from this study are limited to the context from which they were derived.
    • A qualitative study of parenting by incest survivors

      O'Brien, Daryl Wardzinski; Belcher, John R. (1998)
      The devastating issue of childhood sexual abuse has been well documented in the literature. The vast majority of the research, however, has focused on an individualistic view of the victim, perpetrator, and non-offending spouse. The rationale for this study was based on the failure of the existing literature to address the relationships between members of the incestuous family system. In particular, the research is limited in its investigation of the role of the incest survivor as a parent. The purpose of this study was to systematically discover, describe, and analyze the beliefs, practices, and values of nine female incest survivors related to parenting. A qualitative methodology combined with symbolic interaction theory was used to describe the meaning of parenting in the lives of nine female incest survivors. Three rounds of semi-structured interviews were conducted. Interactions between the mother and child, the life experience of the mother that impacted on this relationship, and the behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs that developed were systematically explored. Three major themes were discovered that identified and explained the parenting role of the mother/survivor. These themes support the final hypothesis: The meaning attached to the abuse in the family of origin influences the parenting in the family of procreation. Incest survivors recognize what they do not want their parenting to be, however, because they have no model for healthy functioning there is difficulty implementing this desire in actual parenting situations. In an attempt to be a better parent, a deficit model is utilized which is more self-focused than child-focused. This study provided preliminary information that can be useful in understanding the transmission of child maltreatment across generations. These mothers indicated a desire to be better parents than their own parents were, however, it was in the application of parenting behaviors that difficulties continue. It was also evident that the sexual abuse was only part of their experience and that the unavailability of their own parents was most influential in showing them how to parent.
    • The relationship between child sexual abuse and self-concept in adult women: A community survey study

      Gibbons, John Joseph; Vassil, Thomas V. (1991)
      The relationship between Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) and Self-Concept was investigated using subjects from a community survey study conducted in Baltimore, Maryland. Regression and Step-wise regression analysis were employed to (1) identify CSA as a statistically significant predictor of self-concept, i.e. self-esteem and locus of control, (2) to control for extraneous variables, and (3) to rank order predictor variables in terms of their effect on the dependent variables. Several situational variables, i.e. variables inherent in the abuse event and a possible intervening variable, i.e. perceived social support were also controlled for. Statistically significant relationships were found between (1) CSA and self-esteem and locus of control, (2) CSA with intercourse and self-esteem and locus of control, and (3) Perceived Social Support and self-esteem and locus of control. Findings are discussed with implications for social work research, practice and policy.
    • The social support needs of persons with HIV and AIDS: The case of clients with buddies at the Health Education Resource Organization (HERO)

      Woodroffe, Annette Angela; Greif, Geoffrey L. (1993)
      An orientational qualitative inquiry was conducted to explore and describe the problems and social support needs of people with HIV and AIDS who have buddies, and the extent to which those needs are met, especially by buddies. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with thirty clients from an agency in Baltimore City that provides social support to people with HIV and AIDS. The sample consisted of gay clients, clients with histories of injecting drug use (IDU), and partners of IDUs. Findings revealed that all informants need emotional support; social support involving the sharing of pertinent information about the disease by professionals and the buddy; perceived available support from buddies, friends, and relatives; and social support that encourages them to share experiences as persons living with HIV and AIDS. Clients with histories of IDU needed strong role models and participated in many formal social support groups such as Methadone Maintenance support groups and HIV/AIDS support groups. Overall, findings suggest that social support provided by buddies is unique largely because informants want to be assured at all times that there is someone available for them who will not turn them away.