Substance use is currently a pervasive problem among a large proportion of populations served by the social work profession. Several studies have indicated that social workers routinely provide services to clients with direct and indirect substance use needs, making knowledge of substance use interventions and public policies a necessity for most social workers to operate effectively in the field. However, despite the regularity of interaction with substance using clients, a large body of research has suggested that social work students are ill-prepared to deliver substance use services upon completing their academic training, and that a significant deficit of substance use education currently exists in Master of Social Work Programs (MSW).
In order to provide a greater understanding of the current implementation and outcomes of substance use education in social work, and to identify how the institutional leaders of social work academic institutions currently perceive the importance and necessity of substance use education to the social work field, a mixed-methods study was conducted to explore several relevant features of social work education, and to examine key stakeholder perceptions on pertinent substance use topics. To examine the content and quantity of substance use education currently offered by MSW programs, a content analysis of course listings and full-time faculty profiles was performed on all Council on Social Work Education accredited MSW programs in the United States (N=263). To explore program leader perceptions on substance use education in social work, a substance use education survey was distributed to targeted faculty members at each of the identified MSW programs for the purpose of capturing their opinions on: the emphasis, necessity, and importance of substance use education to social work, the preparedness of MSW students to deliver substance use services following graduation, and specific substance use education needs and barriers for MSW programs. The data obtained in the survey was then analyzed using seven parametric tests to provide insight on how the opinions of program leaders were formed, and to create a predictive model for perceptions of student preparedness based on program leader responses.
The results of the research conducted produced a number of significant findings and generated a detailed overview of how substance use education is currently implemented in social work academics. The results of the content analysis of course listings and faculty profiles suggest that previous findings of a deficit of explicit, formal substance use education in social work academics may be accurate, and additionally show that a large proportion of MSW programs may lack the full-time teaching personnel necessary to sufficiently offer substance use instruction to students. The results of the program leader survey determined that substance use knowledge is perceived to be highly important to the field of social work, but that graduating students are not perceived to be prepared to provide substance use services following graduation. Program leaders also indicated that specific substance use curriculum and resource limitations currently exist for a significant proportion of MSW programs. Finally, the analysis of program leader perceptions distinguished that the amount of emphasis on clinical issues in foundational courses was a significant predictor of perceptions on the capacity of students to deliver treatment services following graduation, but that prevention and policy emphases were not significant predictors for prevention and policy preparedness. Additionally, supplementary program components were not found to be associated with perceptions of overall student preparedness, and perceptions of the importance of substance use education to social work were determined to have a significant impact on survey respondents’ support or opposition to regulatory measures for substance use education in social work. Overall, the combined findings of this study suggest that the social work profession needs to consider making a concerted effort to improve substance use education in the field if graduating students are going to continue to deliver substance use services as part of their professional activities.
|Commitee:||Chapin, Deborah, Warner, Lynn|
|School:||State University of New York at Albany|
|School Location:||United States -- New York|
|Source:||DAI-A 80/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Addictions, Social work education, Substance use, Workforce development|
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