Current Studies

2020 – 2022: (Proposed) Social Worker Ethical Decision-making
Proposal: It is important to understand more about ethical decision-making in the counseling profession. Daily, clinicians and counselors are faced with situations that provoke ethical dilemmas – conflicts between professional demands, organizational demands, best practice demands, and demands of the culture or environment in which they are immersed.  Although many factors have been studied concerning ethical decision -making in business and psychology, ethical decision-making in the social work profession has been studied rarely, if at all.   Some research has pointed to the characteristics of the ethical dilemma itself as being important predictors for ethical choice.  Two ethical dilemmas (duty to warn) will be posed to social workers with the aim of trying to determine the relationship of independent variables  1) Moral Intensity as measured by the Moral Intensity scale developed for this study, and 2) stance of  state law concerning duty to warn to  appropriate ethical behavior on the part of social workers in two states with differing laws concerning duty to warn. Ethical self-efficacy as measured by the ELICSES scale will be considered a mediating variable in the study. FAQs concerning the research and informed consent can be found here.

2020 – 2022: (Proposed) Research on Social Worker use of SBIRT
Screenings, Brief Interventions, and Referrals to Treatment (SBIRT) is a set of interventions which fall into categories of prevention, early intervention and treatment  for risky substance use (Rahm,  Boggs, Martin, Price, Beck, Backer, and Dearing, 2015).  The efficacy of SBIRT to lower risky drug and alcohol use has been demonstrated in many studies (Bray, Del Boca, McRee,  Hayashi,  & Babor, 2017; McCance-Katz & Satterfield, 2012, Harris,  Louis-Jacques, & Knight, 2014;  Rahm, et al., 2017).
Social workers in private practice are among the “front line” of defense against devastating consequences of substance use disorders. Those clinicians’ level of implementation of SBIRT is unknown at this time.
Six states have been chosen for comparison of SBIRT use by social workers. Maine has the one of the highest opiate-related death rates (American Physical Therapy Association, 2019), and one of the highest alcohol poisoning death rates (Juergens, 2015) in the US. Virginia has one of the lowest alcohol poisoning death rates (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015) and one of the lower opiate related death rates (American Physical Therapy Association, 2019). North Carolina, North Dakota, Texas and New York have been added to the study (2022) as the opiate overdose rate shifts, and as the response rate of social workers remains low.
This study will explore the prevalence of the use of SBIRT interventions by social workers in the states mentioned above. The study will relate social worker self-efficacy to behaviors of screening, brief interventions, and referrals to treatment, controlling for all other demographic and practice variables.  The study will describe the barriers to implementation of SBIRT interventions that those social workers experience. FAQs concerning the research and informed consent can be found here.

Completed Research

2018 – 2022: (Ongoing) Acculturation and Latinx Presence in New York State Substance Use Disorder Treatment
Abstract Facilitating Latinx help-seeking access to substance use disorder (SUD) treatment is essential and challenging. This mixed-methods study by a not-for-profit group in New York State attempts to give voice to the treatment provider presence and to describe their experiences concerning the successful development of resources that increase access and encourage involvement of Latino/a clients in SUD treatment in New York State. Findings were that provider acculturation level was significantly related to the presence of Latinx clients in SUD treatment. Clinicians’ comments illuminate trends and highlight creative ways in which clinics can enhance Latino/a SUD treatment access and involvement. Link to full paper.

2017: An Evaluation of an E-learning Intervention to Update Social Work Practice
Abstract This paper presents an evaluation of an e-learning intervention for social work clinicians designed to teach practice skills useful with substance use disorders. The evaluation compares outcomes for two groups of trainees in clinical social work practice. Outcomes of the group taking the training with interactive components demonstrate higher clinician satisfaction and lower retention as compared with the control group. Additionally, the evaluation examines outcomes of the training on social workers’ self-confidence, attitude, knowledge, and skill concerning the use of Cognitive–Behavioral Therapy in practice with substance use disorders. Outcomes suggest advantages of developing e-learning modes for conveying clinical skills. Link to full paper.

2011: Factors Related to Implementation of Best Substance Use Disorder Practices
Substance Use Disorder (SUD) treatment services for youth and adults can be improved by the implementation of appropriate Evidence Based Practices. Although researchers have identified contextual and personal/cognitive factors that affect the adoption of empirically based practices into substance use treatment services (e.g., Aarons, 2004; Eccles, Grimshaw, Walker, Johnston, & Pitts, 2005), implementation remains low. The study found that the social workers implemented Best Practices with 75% of their clients with SUDs. Of the seven Best Practices surveyed, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Self-Help Interventions, and Motivational Interviewing were the most widely-used. The social cognitive factors of confidence and motivation were found to explain between 51% and 71% of the variance in implementation. Social contextual variables of leadership attitude and social network implementation were found to moderate the relationships between social cognitive variables and implementation.