• Compassion fatigue among adult protective services social workers

      Bergel, Dara P.; Belcher, John R. (2007)
      Compassion fatigue is a relatively new concept that describes the symptoms that are experienced by helping professionals who work with clients experiencing trauma from assault, maltreatment, and/or disaster. Little research has focused on the risk factors, effects, and experiences of social workers, specifically who work with the elderly. The purpose of this study was to qualitatively explore the experiences and perspectives of Adult Protective Services (APS) social workers related to compassion fatigue. Nine APS social workers were interviewed from six urban counties of the South Central Region of Pennsylvania. The constant comparative method of qualitative research elicited categories and themes, ultimately leading to a working hypothesis, which helped to explain why this particular sample did not experience compassion fatigue. They indicated that they developed and utilized self-protection measures to stave off any aspects of compassion fatigue. The APS social workers combined personal characteristics and professional factors to develop boundary-setting mechanisms which protected them from experiencing the symptoms and effects of compassion fatigue. The personal characteristics included the knowledge and skills developed from social work education, a personal history of dealing with crisis in their own lives, specific personality traits that APS social workers believe are inherent and needed in order to succeed in this job, the personal sense of achievement that they experience from doing this type of work, their overall fondness for this type of work, the familiarity and knowledge that they have gained from this job, and the personal strengths that these APS social workers intrinsically possess. The professional factors which have assisted APS social workers in creating boundaries are co-worker support, lack of supervisory and institutional support which fosters independence, the feeling of authority that is granted by the job, and the APS social worker's knowledge of the professional resources offered by their employer, the Area Agency on Aging. Social work education, micro practice, macro practice, and policy implications center around the elements needed to implement boundaries in order to maintain a separation between the work and home environment. Suggestions for future research are also provided.
    • An examination of Social Dominance Orientation and Cultural Competence of Social Workers

      Shaikh, Naeem; DeForge, Bruce R.; 0000-0002-3476-2703 (2018)
      Social Dominance Theory (SDT) attempts to explain oppression, discrimination, and inequalities by focusing on group-based social hierarchies. A social hierarchy is defined as the social legitimacy of one dominant group over one or more other groups. SDT suggests that social workers should be low in social dominance orientation (SDO), i.e., their psychological orientation or preference for hierarchies; however, some social worker scholars have posited that the profession acts as an agent of social control. Prior research shows that there can potential conflicts between social workers, and between social workers and clients because of differences in political ideology and religious affiliation. Similar differences have the potential to adversely influence social workers self-perceived cultural competence. In addition, SDO has only been examined in graduate social work students, and there is little or no previous research that examines the relationship of social workers religious or political variables with SDO and cultural competence. This study aimed to test some assumptions of SDT, examine if social workers' political ideology, religious, and political affiliation influenced their perceptions of SDO and cultural competence, and fill other gaps in the knowledge base of cultural competence. Qualtrics was used to collect survey data from 497 social workers registered with the Oregon Board of Licensed Social Workers. Respondents were found to be low in SDO and high in cultural competence and a significant but negative and weak relationship was identified between the two variables. Results of multiple regression analyses showed that gender, ethnicity, being a not strong Democrat, social desirability, general social ideology, and issue-based economic ideology predicted SDO whereas age, race, cultural competence training, general economic ideology, social desirability, affiliation with Republican or Other (non-Democratic) Party, and SDO predicted cultural competence. Number of cultural competence trainings attended was the most important predictor of higher cultural competence. Social desirability was the only common predictor of SDO and cultural competence. Findings for gender differences in SDO suggest support for SDT's invariance hypothesis of SDT but there no racial or ethnic differences in SDO which is inconsistent with findings from previous studies. Implications for social work practice, education, and research are discussed.
    • Factors affecting clinical outcomes in employee assistance programs

      Turner, Ann Nail; Cornelius, Llewellyn Joseph, 1959- (1999)
      This study examined whether short-term counseling received from masters' level social work practitioners in an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) setting leads to improved health status, as measured in five different ways (general health, current health perception, physical functioning, role functioning, and social functioning). The study also examined whether the number of sessions and/or supervisory status (job level, i.e., whether client was a supervisor or not) had an effect on health status. Using four items from the SF-12 on a sample of 470 EAP clients from a government consortium, this study compared scores collected at the client's first counseling session with those collected at his or her last session. The study's findings were the following: (1) some clinical outcomes (general health status, current health perception, role functioning, physical functioning, and social functioning) are improved by EAP in person counseling sessions provided by licensed social workers, (2) the number of sessions affects some clinical outcomes (e.g., general health status, role functioning, social functioning) but does not impact others (current health perceptions or physical functioning) and (3) clinical outcomes (general health status, current health perception, role functioning, physical functioning and social functioning) were similar for clients regardless of their supervisory status.
    • From the Outside Looking Out: A Qualitative Examination of the Experiences of Canadian External EAP Providers

      Csiernik, Rick; Darnell, Kristi; Trotter, Mary Lynn (Employee Assistance Society of North America, 2016-01)
      A qualitative examination of 145 members of the Ontario Association of Social Workers who were or had worked as contractual EAP affiliate providers was undertaken. Participants averaged over 23 years of total clinical experience and over 11 years of work in the EAP field. Respondents indicated that despite limits to the role they continued in this capacity because of the diversity of clients this introduced to their practice and the importance of serving this population in need of clinical services. However, several serious issues arose, both professional and personal. While there were some exceptions, in general, respondents indicated that their practice was limited by parameters placed upon them by Canadian and international EAP vendors. For example, some workplaces were informing their employees that they had access to more counselling sessions than the vendors were supporting the affiliate clinicians to provide. Other prominent themes included ethical issues associated with working for some EAP vendors and the lack of adequate remuneration for the work performed.
    • Oncology social workers and tobacco-related practice: An exploratory study

      Parker, Karen; DeForge, Bruce R. (2010)
      Tobacco use, particularly cigarette smoking, causes approximately 430,000 deaths annually in the United States and is considered to be the number one preventable cause of death (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2010b; Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), 2000; Fiore et al., 2008). Nearly one-third of all cancers are due to tobacco use (ACS, 2010b); therefore, it is likely that many cancer patients and survivors smoke. While a tobacco-related illness, particularly cancer, may be a motivating factor to help some smokers quit, approximately one-third of smokers continue to smoke after a cancer diagnosis (Gritz, Fingeret, Vidrine, Lazev, Mehta, & Reece, 2006). This study utilized a cross-sectional design to study the tobacco-related knowledge, attitudes, education/training, workplace factors, self-perceived competence (self-efficacy), and practice of oncology social workers. A self-administered, Internet-based survey was sent to members of the Association of Oncology Social Work; the final response rate was 12%. Five of the eight independent variables were significantly (p<.01) correlated with tobacco-related social work practice (dependent variable). These include tobacco-related knowledge (r=.349); continuing educational units (training) (r=.339); workplace facilitators (r=.554); tobacco-related attitudes (r=.343); and self-perceived competence (r=.642). A multiple regression model was developed to predict tobacco-related oncology social work practice. Only one variable, self-perceived competence, remained significant in the final model (B=0.891, p<.001). The overall variance accounted for (R2) in the model was .554. Perceived self-competence was found to mediate the relationship between workplace facilitators and tobacco-related oncology social work practice (Sobel test statistic=3.70; p<.0001). Improved understanding about how oncology social workers can increase their self-perceived competence in tobacco-related practices is essential to increasing their activity in this area.
    • Professionals and their Organizational Roles in Pathways to Care for Early Psychosis: Where Are the Social Workers?

      McNamara, Karen Anne; DeForge, Bruce R. (2014)
      Problem: Expediting pathways to effective treatment may reduce the duration of untreated psychosis, thereby improving long-term functioning for individuals experiencing early psychosis. Previous research rarely addresses the role of social workers along the pathway to care for these individuals, with few studies conducted in the United States. Understanding professional roles may provide strategies to shorten pathways and expedite effective treatment for individuals experiencing early psychosis. Method: This exploratory study used a cross-sectional design to examine professional designations and organizational roles of service providers referring individuals to a research program providing specialty early intervention services for psychosis. Of individuals referred (n=320), 169 were assessed for eligibility, 74 were eligible for admission, and 60 were admitted. Tests of association were used to evaluate relationships between roles and professional designations of referring professionals, service-seeker demographics, and clinic eligibility and admission for referred service-seekers. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to evaluate whether professions, roles, or demographic factors predict service-seeker eligibility and admission. Results: Most referrals came through social work professionals (36%) and professionals not licensed to prescribe (54%). Professional designations and organizational roles were strongly associated (V = .700, p <.05). Highest referring role/profession combinations included prescribing psychiatrists (20%), and case-manager social workers (19.4%). The odds of being eligible were: 1) greater for individuals with some college than with no college, 2) less likely for individuals referred from outpatient settings than inpatient settings, and 3) greater for individuals referred from non-prescribing professions than individuals referred from prescribing professions or teams of both. The odds of being admitted were greater for individuals referred from inpatient settings. Conclusions: Social workers and other non-prescribers may be positioned to implement interventions to expedite pathway to care in the United States. Understanding the impact of roles and professions on eligibility and admission requires further research with larger samples in community settings. The ability to refer eligible individuals may be unnecessary for community-based treatment. Community settings may welcome high referral volumes when individuals do not meet criteria for FEP. Offering treatment to individuals at risk for psychosis and monitoring for FEP may be a better approach to reducing DUP.
    • Social Workers and Disproportionate Minority Contact: A Mixed Methods Study

      Afkinich, Jenny Lee; Bright, Charlotte Lyn (2020)
      Disproportionate minority contact (DMC) is the disproportionate representation of racial minority youth at all levels of the juvenile justice system. DMC is evident in rates of initial arrests, referrals to court, delinquency findings/ adjudications, out-of-home placements, and transfers to adult criminal court. Race remains a significant predictor of legal outcomes for youth even when factors such as prior legal history and current charge severity are considered despite White and minority youth reporting similar levels of offending. This mixed methods study examined the relationship between community social workers employed by the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice (SC DJJ) in the agency’s county offices and DMC. Administrative data from SC DJJ was utilized to determine the extent of DMC in the state, to compare legal outcomes (i.e., receiving confinement dispositions and being waived to adult court) for youth in counties with community social workers to youth in counties that do not employ community social workers, and to compare the legal outcomes for youth in counties with community social workers over time. The results indicate that DMC continues to exist in South Carolina when measured via relative rate indices. Overall, there was little evidence that employing community social workers is sufficient to reduce DMC at the disposition or waiver stage. Qualitative interviews with nine of the 11 community social workers were used to identify and understand the mechanisms, barriers, and facilitators for reducing DMC. The findings suggest multiple nuanced ways the social workers can play a role in reducing DMC. The social workers identified two stages in the juvenile justice process in which they can and have had an impact on increasing equity: (1) out-of-home placement decisions for youth on probation or parole and (2) determining probation requirements. The social workers described a need for hiring additional social workers. They also believe they could train police officers and school officials about alternatives to making a referral to SC DJJ to reduce inequitable decisions at the front-end of the juvenile justice system. Implications for the study include an expanded role for community social workers and new ways to examine DMC quantitatively.