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Article

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.

Article

Social work is distinguishable from other disciplines by its emphasis on producing change that affects clients and their environment. This emphasis has influenced the nature of social work practice research, which calls for attention to the development, design, and implementation of change strategies through the use of the science of intervention research. This paper provides a definition of intervention research, highlights its culturally congruent elements, and addresses its implications for social work evidence-based practice and practice guidelines.

Article

Ron Avi Astor, Rami Benbenishty, and Joey Nuñez Estrada

Research suggests that school violence victims may experience physical harm; psychological trauma, such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, low self-esteem, poor academic outcomes, low school attendance, suicidal ideation; and, in rare cases, extreme outbursts of lethal aggression. One of the most common definitions had emphasized school bullying, defined by most researchers as an aggressive repetitive behavior emanating from a perpetrator who is stronger than the victim. Currently there is a fairly strong consensus in academia that the term “school violence” includes a wide range of intentional behaviors that aim to physically and emotionally harm students, staff, and property, on or around school grounds. These acts vary in severity and frequency, and include behaviors such as social isolation, threats, and intimidation (including through electronic communications), school fights, possession and use of weapons, property theft and vandalism, sexual harassment and assault, abuse from school staff, gang violence, and hate crimes.

Article

Developing numeracy skills from the beginning of one’s school career predicts academic achievement and correlates with life satisfaction in adulthood. For these reasons, all students should be afforded a strong early numeracy foundation. In school, teaching practices supporting diverse learners in mathematics should consider individual developmental capabilities and a growth mindset. Students should also be supported by a pedagogically knowledgeable and strengths-based collaborative team and accurate and ongoing assessment practices. With such supports, students may be afforded maximum opportunities to develop solid early numeracy skills, continue their development of conceptual and calculational knowledge in school mathematics coursework, and minimize anxieties regarding mathematics learning.

Article

This entry describes the diversity among Asian American populations, setting the context to understand the need for different practice interventions. It explains the role of cultural values in the underpinnings of the selection of theoretical frameworks that guide chosen practice interventions. Indigenous and biculturalizations of interventions (Fong, Boyd, & Browne, 1997) are discussed as they relate to general and specific problems relevant to this population. Challenges and dilemmas are raised as ethical decisions are made among practitioners, who serve the Asian American native born, immigrant, and refugee populations.

Article

Humanitarian intervention is the use of military intervention in a state to achieve socioeconomic objectives, such as keeping people alive and communities functioning by providing basic necessities, without the approval of its authorities. There are three eras of humanitarian intervention: the entire time up to the end of World War II, the Cold War, and the post-Cold War period. These three eras are distinguished by differences in the structure of the international system. Ultimately, the Western intellectual tradition of just war is the foundation for contemporary international law governing armed conflict. It is grounded in natural law, which recognizes the right of sovereigns to use force to uphold the good of the human community, particularly in cases where unjust injury is inflicted on innocents. Eventually, a diverse body of literature on humanitarian intervention has developed. The contemporary debate focuses on the long-standing disagreement between positive law and natural law about coercive intervention. Political scientists use realist and constructivist paradigms to analyze the motives of intervening states and to argue for or against the practice. Proponents favor humanitarian intervention on the basis of legitimacy and the consequences of nonintervention. Opponents argue against intervention on the basis of illegitimacy, practical constraints, and negative consequences. Meanwhile, skeptics sympathize with the humanitarian impulse to help civilians but are troubled about methods and consequences.

Article

Bystander intervention is a form of helping that occurs when onlookers intercede to provide direct or indirect aid to a victim. When bystanders step in to prevent or reduce harm to others, they act as agents of primary and secondary health prevention. But theory and research suggest the bystander intervention process is complex and multiple social-psychological and situational barriers imperil bystander action. Bystanders are often ill-prepared to intervene when others are at risk for emotional or physical harm. They may not notice that someone needs help due to distraction from self-focus, engagement in social interaction, intoxication, or aspects of the situation like crowding or noise. Due to inadequate knowledge, bystanders may misdiagnose the situation and believe intervention is unnecessary. The negative consequences of nonintervention may be unknown to them such that the situation fails to increase their empathic arousal and motivate their action. Lacking knowledge, they may not recognize the seriousness of the situation and or the potential costs of inaction, and so are insufficiently alarmed. Pluralistic ignorance can arise when multiple uncertain bystanders conceal their concern and hesitate to act, assuming others’ inaction means intervention is inappropriate or unnecessary. When there are multiple witnesses, bystanders may assume their help is unneeded, place intervention responsibility on others, or feel less responsible for helping due to diffusion of responsibility. When the victim is not a member of their in-group, or is assumed at fault for their predicament, they may feel less empathy and a reduced responsibility to help. Or, bystanders may assign responsibility for intervention to the victim’s friends or fellow in-group members, or to those “in charge” of the setting. Even when bystanders realize help is needed and take responsibility for helping, they may not act if they do not know how or lack confidence in their ability to successfully carry out the actions required to help. When they have the skills, they may not help if they perceive the costs of action to outweigh the benefits of action. Audience inhibition arising from group norms supporting inaction and from bystander worry about what others will think about them if they act unnecessarily or ineptly can prevent bystander action by increasing bystanders’ perceived helping costs. Recognition of bystanders as a potentially valuable public health asset has increased interest in promoting bystander intervention. Bystander intervention promotion and communications empower bystander action by combating intervention- and audience-specific barriers to bystander intervention using targeted information, communications, and skills training. Theory and research suggest that effective promotions and communications foster context-specific attitudes, beliefs, norms, and skills such that bystanders: (1) are able to quickly and accurately identify a situation as intervention-appropriate; (2) experience action-motivating arousal (including empathy) in the face of the event; (3) have positive attitudes towards intervention and perceive the benefits of action as outweighing the perceived costs; (4) are empowered to act and feel confident in their ability to effectively intervene (bystander efficacy); and (5) are resistant to evaluation apprehension and norms contraindicating action. Effective bystander intervention promotion draws on social psychology and communications studies, and best practices for health promotion and prevention programs. The application of social marketing and formative and summative program evaluation methods enhance the potential of bystander intervention promotions and communications to empower bystander action.

Article

David R. Hodge

This entry addresses the topic of spirituality in the social work profession, with an emphasis on the American context. Toward that end, the history of the relationship between the profession and spirituality is traced from the profession’s origins, through secularization, to the present reemergence of spirituality as a legitimate subject in social work discourse. The diverse ways in which spirituality and religion are conceptualized are reviewed along with rationales that are advanced to support the inclusion of spirituality in social work. The topics of spiritual assessment and intervention are discussed and guidelines for using spiritual interventions in practice settings are presented with a brief review of the research on spiritual interventions from an evidenced-based perspective. Some of the organizations that help support and nurture spirituality in social work are delineated. The entry concludes with a summary of proscriptions for advancing spirituality to the next stage in its professional development.

Article

Amy E. Richardson and Elizabeth Broadbent

Cognitions about illness have been identified as contributors to health-related behavior, psychological well-being, and overall health. Several different theories have been developed to explain how cognitions may exert their impact on health outcomes. This article includes three theories: the Health Belief Model (HBM), the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), and the Common Sense Model (CSM), with the primary focus on the CSM. The HBM posits that cognitions regarding susceptibility to a health threat, the severity of the threat, and the benefits and costs associated with behavior, will determine whether or not a behavior is performed. In the TPB, behavior is thought to be a consequence of intention to act, which is shaped by attitudes regarding a behavior, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control. The Common Sense Model (CSM) proposes that individuals form cognitive representations of illness (known as illness perceptions) as well as emotional representations, which are key determinants of coping behaviors to manage the illness. Coping behaviors are theorized to have direct relationships with physical and psychological health outcomes. Cognitive representations encompass perceptions regarding the consequences posed by the illness, its timeline, personal ability to control the illness, whether the illness can be cured or controlled by treatment, and the identity of the illness (including its label and symptoms). Emotional representations reflect feelings such as fear, anger, and depression about the illness. The development of illness representations is influenced by a number of factors, including personal experience, the nature of physical symptoms, personality traits, and the social and cultural context. Illness cognitions can vary considerably between patients and health care professionals. There are a number of methods to assess illness-related cognitions, and increasing evidence that modifying negative or inaccurate cognitions can improve health outcomes.

Article

Larry D. Icard, Jacqueline J. Lloyd, and Gisoo Barnes

HIV/AIDS has introduced an array of issues and needs for children, youth, and their families. Family-focused interventions have emerged as a viable strategy for researchers and practitioners seeking effective and appropriate responses for the prevention, treatment, and care of children, youth, and families affected by HIV/AIDS. This discussion provides an overview of the epidemiology of HIV infection among children and youth, and highlights common elements and trends in the development, implementation, and testing of family-focused interventions. The discussion concludes with a commentary on areas for future attention.

Article

Lani V. Jones

This entry provides an overview of the life-span perspective focusing on biological developments and social tasks all of which are embedded in a larger sociocultural context from birth to old age within diverse environments, cultures, and historical eras. This section will also focus on how the life-span perspective succeeds traditional life course models that assume to be universal, sequential, and predictable. The life-span perspective of social work departs from approaches based on traditional models that are narrow and focuses on personal deficits, pointing instead to strengths, continued growth, and environmental resources for individuals, families, groups, and communities. Finally, this entry will discuss how the life-span perspective shows great promise for encompassing theory of human development for the purpose of expanding knowledge, promoting “best practice” service delivery, policy regulation and research to enhance the lives of people with whom social workers come into contact.

Article

Joseph Walsh

Psychoeducation, which describes a range of direct interventions that are focused on participants' education, support, and coping skills development, has become extremely popular in social work practice since the 1970s. Such programs are delivered in many service settings and with many types of client populations. This article includes a definition of the term, a review of its origins in social work practice, its range of applications, the practice theories, and professional values from which it draws, and a review of the research evidence for its utility.

Article

This entry will provide an overview of psychosocial issues and social work intervention relevant to working with lesbians. Practice issues related to the impact of heterosexism, coming out, lesbian identity development, and lesbian couple and family formation will be discussed. Assessment and intervention methods appropriate for social work practice with lesbians will be addressed.

Article

Marcel Zeelenberg

Regret is the prototypical decision related emotion. It is felt when the outcome of a non-chosen alternative is better than the outcomes obtained. Regret is a functional emotion that helps people to correct mistakes. It is also functional because people can anticipate regret beforehand, then choose in such a way as to avoid regret from happening. Researchers in economics proposed regret theory, an alternative to rational choice theory, which takes into account the anticipation of regret and its influence in choice. Researchers in psychology studied how anticipations of regret influence decision making in a variety of domains, including health behaviors. The findings suggest that interventions can be developed that are based on the idea that people are regret averse.

Article

Sara Honn Qualls and Lacey Edwards

Family systems therapy seeks to alter the structure or processes of a family for the purposes of reducing distress in one or more persons and improving the ability of the family to meet members’ needs. Building from a general systems paradigm, family systems therapy recognizes that family structures shift over time as they respond to members’ developmental processes and broader system demands. As members enter and exit or change capacity, and as external stressors arise, the family typically uses adaptive processes to demonstrate resilience. Family systems therapy is useful when the family struggles to adapt, or the adaptation strategy further stresses the family. Multiple models of family systems therapies offer variations in intervention approaches but have common tenets. Major models include Ackerman’s early psychodynamics model, transgenerational models of family therapy, structural family therapy, strategic family therapy, and communications approaches to family therapy. Models vary in their recommended roles for the therapist, strategies for therapist and family, and the salience of immediate versus longer-term goals. Family systems therapies conceptualize family interactions as complex, reciprocal, open, self-organizing, adaptive, social constructionist, and meaning-making. Family systems therapy also can be used with systems larger than families, such as schools or organizations, or to understand cultural phenomena. The field of marriage and family therapy has defined competencies for practice, training requirements, and licensure standards and established national and international professional organizations.

Article

Jennifer McGowan and Lion Shahab

Worldwide, tobacco use is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. However, the health effects of smoking are reversible, making smoking cessation an important target for public health policy. Tobacco control is a field of public health science dedicated to reducing tobacco use and, thereby, to reducing cigarette-related morbidity and mortality. For tobacco control to be effective, it is necessary for policy makers to understand the personal and interpersonal factors which encourage people to smoke, factors which motivate smokers to quit (e.g., health, social pressure, cost), and the personal and population-level methods that are most effective at encouraging and prolonging attempts to quit. Research has identified that social norms, mental health, and individual personality factors are most associated with smoking uptake, so interventions which reduce social smoking (e.g., smoking bans, plain packaging) would be most effective at preventing uptake. Conversely, the use of cigarettes is maintained by nicotine addiction and attempts to quit are often motivated by health concerns, social pressure and the cost of tobacco products. As such, interventions that address physiological and behavioral addiction inherent in tobacco product use (e.g., nicotine replacement therapy combined with counselling), that create social pressure to stop (e.g., mass media campaigns), or that increase the cost of tobacco products are most likely to be effective at encouraging attempts to quit.

Article

Health promotion communication interventions invariably raise ethical issues because they aim to influence people’s views and lifestyles, and they are often initiated, funded, and influenced by government agencies or powerful public or private organizations. With the increasing use of commercial advertising tactics in health promotion communication interventions, ethical issues regarding advertising can be raised in health promotion communication when it applies techniques such as highly emotional appeals, exaggerations, omissions, provocative tactics, or the use of children. Key ethical concerns relate to infringing on people’s privacy, interfering with their right to freedom of choice and autonomy, and issues of equity (such as by widening social gaps, where mainly those who are better off benefit from the interventions). Interventions using digital media raise ethical issues regarding the digital divide and privacy. The interventions may have unintended adverse effects on the psychological well-being of individuals or groups (e.g., by inadvertently stigmatizing or labeling people portrayed as negative models). They can also have an effect on cultural aspects of society (e.g., by idealizing particular lifestyles or turning health into a value) and raise concerns regarding democratic processes and citizens’ consent to the interventions. Interventions can have repercussions in multicultural settings since members of diverse populations may hold beliefs or engage in practices considered by health promoters as “unhealthy,” but which have important cultural significance. There are also ethical concerns regarding collaborations between health promoters and for-profit organizations. Identifying and considering ethical issues in the intervention is important for both moral and practical reasons. Several ethical conceptual frameworks are briefly presented that elucidate central ethical principles or concerns, followed by ethical issues associated with specific contexts or aspects of communication interventions.

Article

Michael P. Leiter

Engagement has continued to develop as a positive construct in organizational psychology. Initially defined as employees’ identification with their work, work engagement became understood as a configuration of vigor, dedication, and absorption that motivates exceptional work performance. Although generally viewed as a positive construct, engagement may have a dark side in giving work excessive importance in employees’ lives. There has been some debate regarding the specific qualities that define engagement and the extent to which engagement is an enduring trait in contrast to a varying response to situational constraints and opportunities. The concerns are reflected in the measures of engagement, the most widely used is the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES). The Job Demands/Resources Model has structured much of the research work on engagement in recent years, leading to initiatives to enhance engagement by improving the quality and variety of resources available to employees at work. Within this domain, job crafting appears to provide a means through which individuals or groups may broaden their opportunities to participate in engaging activities while reducing the range of drudgery inherent in their work.

Article

Literacy is a gateway to education, and yet universal literacy remains an aspiration rather than a reality. The science of reading has, however, made significant progress in understanding the key factors that impact development. Five relevant factors can be identified. The first factor is the developmental focus of models. Here the richness and dynamic nature of development is central. Models must clearly explain change and phenomena such as bi- and multilingualism. A second factor concerns bioecological influences on development. Stronger models include understandings of the complexity of gene–environment interactions in development. A third pertinent factor concerns the precise nature of the learning task facing the beginner reader, and in particular the influence of distinct orthographies. A fourth factor concerns the coherent exposition of the cognitive processes involved in “word-level” and “text-level” reading processes. Finally, contextual effects on literacy are profound. Historical and politicoeconomic forces are often linked to wide country- and region-based differences in literacy. A detailed treatment of what is known about effective interventions for struggling readers can be built on the basis of this theorizing. Here, evidence from meta-analysis suggests that both the word-level decoding and text-level comprehension aspects of reading development can be measurably improved through evidence-based interventions. For word-level interventions studies focusing on phonics currently furnish the most secure evidence of impact. For text-level comprehension, interventions focusing on oral language development and text-based meta-cognitive strategy appear the most efficacious. Measure of treatment effects for such interventions show modest but reliable impacts on development and form the basis of ongoing efforts to optimize interventions.

Article

Michelle Alvarez, Kimberly Zammitt, Laura Strunk, and Kevin Filter

A functional behavioral assessment (FBA) is a set of procedures that are used to assess and identify environmental conditions that predict and maintain behavior FBA is a means to determine the purpose of a person’s behavior and the ways in which the behavior is reinforced in the person’s environment. Underlying the functional assessment of behavior is the assumption that the way one behaves is functionally related to aspects of the environment. This relation is reliable, predictable, and observable, and can thus be assessed by an outside observer. The FBA entails the use of a series of methods to determine the variables that contextualize a behavior of interest. Contextual variables can include any aspect of the individual’s environment and are usually separated temporally between those factors that occur before a behavior and those which occur after. The latter are termed consequences and the former are typically referred to as antecedents. Usually, the behaviors under study, especially in applied settings, are called target behaviors. Temporally, these factors are conceptualized in an ABC framework: antecedent, behavior, and consequence. The behavior of interest is the target of a subsequent intervention; the intervention is informed by the FBA and utilizes the understanding of the behavior’s purpose. Antecedents are altered such that target behaviors are no longer prompted or motivated by environmental conditions, new socially acceptable behaviors are taught that can access the desired reinforcer and replace the target behavior, and reinforcers are altered to decrease access when the target behavior occurs and increase access when the replacement behavior occurs. FBAs are frequently used in schools to address problem behaviors. Problem behaviors occur with students in the school setting for many different reasons. Research has determined that the use of FBAs is useful in identifying environmental factors that predict and maintain problem behaviors. The use of FBAs in the school setting has proven to increase positive student outcomes. This article demonstrates how FBAs can be used effectively in different settings.