Melissa Lim Brodowski, Jacqueline Counts, and Aislinn Conrad-Hiebner
This chapter provides an overview of early-childhood home-visiting programs and offers a brief summary of the research, policy, and practice issues. The first section defines home visiting and the funding available to support it. The next section summarizes common characteristics of home-visiting programs and describes the features of several evidence-based home-visiting programs. The outcomes from home visiting for parents and children, including relevant cost-benefit studies, are briefly reviewed. The chapter concludes with implementation issues and future directions for home visiting.
Ruth J. Parsons and Jean East
The concept of empowerment has deep roots in social work practice. Building upon the work of empowerment theorists of the 1980s and 1990s and applied broadly in the 2000s [Itzhaky and York (2000), Social Work Research, 24, 225–234; Travis and Deepak (2011), Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work, 20, 203–222], the concept of empowerment has evolved from a philosophical level to practice frameworks and methods. Substantial research confirms empowerment outcomes as personal, interpersonal, and sociopolitical. Practice interventions contain both personal and structural dimensions and are accomplished through multilevel interventions. Based on transformation ideology, empowerment is a counter to perceived and objective powerlessness. Social work relationships provide an opportunity for experiencing power and collaboration. Empowerment interventions are often useful with vulnerable populations, such as women and members of stigmatized groups.
Allan Hugh Cole Jr.
This entry discusses principal ways in which knowledge and knowing have been understood within philosophy, science, and social science, with implications for contemporary social work practice. Attention is given to various types of knowledge, its necessary conditions, scope, and sources. It focuses particularly on how practice wisdom remains a key source of knowledge for social work theory and practice, and suggests that greater epistemological clarity could further competent social work practice in an increasingly pluralistic world.
Jeane W. Anastas
Social work researchers hold themselves to general ethical standards for biomedical and social science research and to the values specific to social work. This article describes (a) the general ethical principles guiding research involving human beings, (b) mechanisms for the ethical review of studies involving human beings, (c) ethical issues in research on vulnerable populations such as children and adolescents, recipients of care, and other socially marginalized groups, and (d) plagiarism, authorship, and conflict of interest. Current topics in the responsible conduct of research include the use of clinical and audio or video data, participatory action research, and Internet-based studies.
Jeffrey M. Jenson and Matthew O. Howard
Evidence-based practice (EBP) is an educational and practice paradigm that includes a series of predetermined steps aimed at helping practitioners and agency administrators identify, select, and implement efficacious interventions for clients. This entry identifies definitions of EBP and traces the evolution of EBP from its origins in the medical profession to its current application in social work. Essential steps in the process of EBP and challenges associated with applying EBP to social work practice, education, and research are noted.
Ahmed T. Helal
The concept of evidence-based practice (EBP) was introduced in social work by Mary Richmond, who had the revolutionary notion of adopting a more direct practice with clients.
The origins of EBP in the United States are traced, as well as its emergence in the Arab world. Discussed are various Arab faculties and departments of social work that include EBP among their academic courses. Social work settings that apply EBP in professional interventions with clients are examined. Barriers and challenges to the processes of both teaching and learning EBP in Arab society are highlighted. The future outlook for EBP in Arab schools of social work is explored.
S. J. Dodd and Andrea Savage
Evidence-informed practice (EIP) is a model that incorporates best available research evidence; client’s needs, values, and preferences; practitioner wisdom; and theory into the clinical decision-making process filtered through the lens of client, agency, and community culture. The purpose of this article is to define and describe the evidence-informed practice model within social work and to explore the evolution of evidence-informed practice over time. The article distinguishes evidence-informed practice from the more commonly known (and perhaps more popular) evidence-based practice. And, having outlined the essential components of evidence-informed practice, describes the barriers to its effective implementation. Critical contextual factors related to the implementation of evidence-informed practice at the individual level, as well as within social work organizations, are also addressed. Finally, implications both for social work practice and education are explored.
Charles L. Usher
Experimental and quasi-experimental research provides the foundation for all evidence-based practice systems that seek to identify and promote the use of social work practices of demonstrated effectiveness. This reflects the prevailing perspective that experimental research is the only definitive basis for claims that certain outcomes can be altered by the effects of a given intervention. At this point in the evolution of social work research, however, the body of work based on experimentation is not extensive. In response to the challenges of implementing experiments related to social interventions, researchers have developed new approaches, such as group randomized designs. Also, newly developed statistical methods may provide ways to control the selection bias inherent in quasi-experimental designs. This entry explores the central place of experimental and quasi-experimental designs in social work research, the challenges of using them, and recent developments that may expand their use.
Cynthia Franklin and Laura M. Hopson
Family intervention has become an important tool for social work practitioners. This entry provides a brief history of family intervention and important influences as well as a synopsis of current research. Although these interventions require more research to better understand the populations for whom they are most effective, the evidence supports their usefulness in addressing such issues as aggression, substance use, and depression, among others.
Lois F. Cowles
Social work in health care emerged with immigration and urbanization associated with industrialization, and the resultant shift from physician visits to the patient's home and workplace to hospital-centered care. This change is alleged to have resulted in a loss of the doctor's perspective of the psychosocial influences on physical health. Originally, some nurses were assigned the function of addressing this loss. But eventually, the function became recognized as that of a social worker. From its beginnings in the general hospital setting in the late 1800s, social work in health care, that is, medical social work, has expanded into multiple settings of health care, and the role of the social worker from being a nurse to requiring a Master's Degree in Social Work (MSW) from a university. However, the broad function of social work in health care remains much the same, that is, “to remove the obstacles in the patient's surroundings or in his mental attitude that interfere with successful treatment, thus freeing him to aid in his own recovery” (Cannon, 1923. p 15). Health care social workers are trained to work across the range of “methods,” that is, work with individuals, small groups, and communities (social work “methods” are called “casework”, “group work” and “community organization”). They work to assist the patient, using a broad range of interventions, including, when indicated, speaking on behalf of the client (advocacy), helping clients to assert themselves, to modify undesirable behaviors, to link with needed resources, to face their challenges, to cope with crises, to develop improved understanding of their health-related thought processes and habits, to build needed self confidence to do what is required to help themselves deal with their health problem, to gain insight and support from others who are in a similar situation, to gain strength from humor, or from a supportive environment, and through spiritual experience, and from practicing tasks that are needed to deal with their health-related problems or from joining forces with others in the community to modify it in the interest of improved health status for all, or to gradually restore a sense of stability and normalcy after a traumatic experience. Most important of all, perhaps, is the “helping relationship” between client and social worker, which needs to be one of total understanding and acceptance of the client as a person. A sizable portion of the U.S. population lacks financial access to health care, where health care is regarded as a privilege rather than a right, as it is seen in all other industrial nations (except South Africa). Current trends in the U.S. health care system reflect efforts to control rising health care costs without dealing with the “real problems,” which are: (1) the lack of a single-payer health care system and: (2) the lack of focus on “public health.”
Social workers working with individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families require an understanding of the disabilities themselves as well as the larger context of disability in society. Individuals with disabilities face particular risks for poverty and poor healthcare, and it is essential for social workers to understand the complex web of social services available. Furthermore, social workers often work not only with the person with a disability but also with their caregiving families.
David P. Moxley
Interdisciplinarity links social work to other disciplines within complex domains of practice. Contrasted with multidisciplinary practice, in which social workers practice alongside other disciplines and professions, all of whom pursue their own intervention aims, interdisciplinarity requires a blending and combining of those practices distinctive within each of the disciplines in pursuit of a common set of outcomes. Interdisciplinarity requires collaboration, the integration of knowledge and action, and the formation of a common agenda of practice guided by unified goals. While interdisciplinary practice amplifies the distinctiveness of social work in a given domain, it underscores engagement of the profession in collaborative knowledge development, social learning, and innovation.
Michael Sherraden, Li-Chen Cheng, Fred M. Ssewamala, Youngmi Kim, Vernon Loke, Li Zou, Gina Chowa, David Ansong, Lissa Johnson, YungSoo Lee, Michal Grinstein-Weiss, Margaret M. Clancy, Jin Huang, Sondra G. Beverly, Yunju Nam, and Chang-Keun Han
Child Development Accounts (CDAs) are subsidized savings or investment accounts to help people accumulate assets for developmental purposes and life course needs. They are envisioned as universal (everyone participates), progressive (greater subsidies for the poor), and potentially lifelong national policy. These features distinguish CDAs from most existing asset-building policies and programs around the world, which are typically regressive, giving greater benefits to the well-off. With policy innovation in recent years, several countries now have national CDA policies, and four states in the United States have statewide programs. Some of these are designed to be universal and progressive. Evidence indicates that true universality can be achieved, but only with automatic account opening and automatic deposits. In the absence of automatic features, advantaged families participate and benefit more. Today, momentum for universal and automatic features is gradually gaining traction and accelerating. At this stage in the emergence of inclusive asset-based policy, this is the most important development.
This entry regards intervention research as an essential part of social work as a profession and research discipline. A brief history of intervention research reveals that use of intervention research for the betterment of human conditions is contemporary with the genesis of modern social science. Advances in intervention research are attributed to the comprehensive social programs launched during the 1960s in the United States. A contemporary and generic model of intervention research is described. It is argued that it is ethical to use intervention research and unethical not to use it. Assessment of some of the recent advances in policy making and science gives an optimistic picture of the future of intervention research.
Rates of depression increase during adolescence and may put youth at risk for suicidality, future episodes, and impaired functioning in multiple life domains. Increased vulnerability for depression during this stage may occur because it is when the cognitive capacity for personal reflection, abstract reasoning, and formal operational thought develop; depressive styles for attributing events may hence form, along with hopelessness about the future. However, other biological and social influences may also interact with the increased cognitive vulnerability. Latino ethnicity and female gender appear to exert particular influence. Treatment for adolescent depression includes medication (mainly Prozac and Zoloft), cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and family therapy. Medication and psychosocial treatment is also combined, particularly for treatment-resistant depression.
Craig Winston LeCroy
Logic models have become a critical feature of program planning and evaluation. Using a logic model framework provides a visual summary that shows the relationship between the program’s resources, activities, outputs, and outcomes. The logic model is a tool that helps individuals see the interrelationships between the different components of a program. By using logic models, program planners and evaluators can more effectively examine a program’s theory and logic. The logic model tool highlights the program’s underlying theory, the service activities, and the organizational structure for accomplishing program outcomes. The process of developing a logic model assists developers and evaluators and other stakeholders in understanding a program’s assumptions and evaluating the logical links between what programs are doing and the outcomes they hope to achieve. Because of their utility logic, models have become widely used in social service programs.
Shaun M. Eack
Mental health research is the study of the causes and correlates of mental health and illness, approaches to improve mental well-being, and the delivery of effective mental health services to those in need. Social workers have been leading researchers in each of these areas of inquiry, and this article provides an overview of the broad field of mental health research, with particular emphasis on the contributions of social work. A biopsychosocial review of research on the correlates of mental health and illness is provided, followed by a synthesis of studies examining pharmacological and psychosocial approaches to improving mental health. Research on mental health services is then presented, with a focus on studies seeking to improve access to quality care and reduce service disparities. Key directions for future mental health research include identifying specific causal predictors of mental illness, improving existing treatments, and disseminating advances to the community.
Julia H. Littell
Meta-analysis is widely used in the social, behavioral, and medical sciences to combine results of multiple studies and produce relevant information for clinical practice and social policy. It is most often used to synthesize quantitative data on treatment effects, but it has many potential applications. Meta-analysis includes a set of techniques for quantitative data synthesis that can (and should) be performed in the context of systematic efforts to minimize bias at each step in the research review process (see Systematic Reviews). Without careful efforts to eliminate bias, meta-analysis can lead to wrong conclusions.
Daphne C. Watkins
Mixed methods research integrates both qualitative and quantitative methods into a single study to produce a more inclusive and expansive understanding of a topic. This article defines mixed methods in social work research, and discusses design notation, language, popular mixed methods designs, and data integration. Using mixed methods provides an opportunity for social workers to take advantage of the strengths of both qualitative and quantitative approaches and to offset their weaknesses. It is important that social workers engaged in mixed methods research maximize the interpretation of their findings and articulate the advantages of using mixed methods over qualitative or quantitative methods alone. Given the unique features of the profession, it is imperative that social workers carve out a distinctive mixed methods niche for social work researchers and practitioners.
Julianne S. Oktay and Bradley Zebrack
Oncology social work researchers have made (and continue to make) important contributions to the knowledge base that supports the profession. This article discusses the profession of oncology social work, its roots in medical social work in the United States, the development of cancer treatment, and the body of research that informs its art and practice. Oncology social work research is placed in the broader contexts of the social work profession, the field of oncology, and the specific field of oncology social work.
Through the decades, the profession of oncology social work has grown, gained stability and legitimacy. Oncology social work itself, along with oncology social work research, have made rapid strides in the 21st century and accelerating in impact and relevance. Oncology social work research is stronger now than ever. Recent developments, such as the addition of a research institute at the annual AOSW conference and initiatives to establish a “practice-based research network” are expanding capacity in the field.
Oncology social work researchers bring a unique perspective to their research. Social work’s patient-centered perspective is reflected in research that explores the cancer experience of patients and family members and leads to new interventions based on that experience. Social work’s focus on human development over the life course results in research that reflects a developmental framework or focuses on specific age groups, such as children, adolescents, young adults, or the elderly. Social work’s conceptual model of “Person-in-Environment” is reflected in research on cancer patients in the context of their interpersonal relationships. The values of social justice and cultural competence are reflected in research on health disparities, minority populations, and multicultural perspectives. Finally, the field of oncology social work itself has been the focus of recent research on distress screening and its implementation.
In the 21st century, oncology social work research stands in a pivotal position. Although this type of research is now widely recognized as important, it is still a challenge to access the level of support from major funders of cancer research required to establish and reinforce a strong and vibrant knowledge base for the profession.