Perspectives on Social Work: 2009

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This collection gathers content from two volumes of Perspectives on Social Work published in 2009.


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    Perspectives on Social Work Volume 8 (Fall 2009)
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2009) McCarthy, Michael J.; Ryosho, Natsuko; Franklin, Felina; Moodie-Dyer, Amber; Drake, Matthew B.; Christson, Adedoyin
    This is the full-text volume of Perspectives on Social Work, vol. 8 (Fall 2009).
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    The Role of Social Work in the Lives of Home Care Workers
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2009) Ryosho, Natsuko
    Demand for quality home health care has been growing as more and more persons who are old, chronically ill, or disabled choose to receive long-term care services in communitybased, rather than in institutional settings. Home care has been driven by three primary trends: an individual's preference to remain in his or her own home for as long as possible, advancements in medicine and technology which support complex care at home, and a political interest in deinstitutionalization with the goal of containing health care costs (Kaye, Chapman, Newcomer, & Harrington, 2006; Stone, 2004). The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2007) projects that between 2006 to 2016, the demand for home care workers will grow by 50.6%.
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    Online ethnography and vulnerable populations: A pilot test of data collection via a popular Instant Messaging service
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2009) McCarthy, Michael J.
    The internet is rapidly becoming a vibrant topic of study, source of data, and tool for qualitative inquiry in social work (Rybas & Gajjala, 2007). Variously termed virtual, cyber, or online ethnography (Beaulieu, 2004; Markham, 2005; Rybas & Gajjala, 2007), internet-based methods of data collection include observations of online communities (e.g., internet chat rooms), analysis of online narratives (e.g., internet web-logs or digital video), interviews via email or instant messaging (IM), and others. While holding great promise for advancing knowledge development and advancing practice, caution has been recommended in using computer-mediated methods to solicit information from vulnerable populations on sensitive topics (Grinyer, 2007). The principle goal of this pilot test was to critically examine the process, benefits, and challenges of collecting potentially sensitive qualitative information from research participants over the Internet.
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    Blazing A New Frontier
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2009) Drake, Matthew B.
    My life changed drastically two years ago when my daughter was born. My wife and I prepared for parenthood as well as any other couple by attending parenting preparation classes, reading books, and talking late into the evenings. However, we were exploring the additional elements of unchartered gender roles. Now two years later, I am a stay-at-home father (SAHF). I am one of the many men across the United States taking on this new and unfamiliar frontier. The roles of men and women have been changing rapidly in today’s communities, especially how they relate to division of family labor in the home. Like me, many fathers are choosing to stay at home and raise the children while more women are staying in the work force. The U.S. Census Bureau (2002) reported an 18% increase in fathers who stayed at home from 1994 to 2001. Furthermore, the 2006 Census estimated that 159,000 men remained out of the labor force for at least one year to be the primary caregiver to a child while their wives or partners worked (U.S. Census Bureau, 2006). Despite the growing trend of fathers staying home to be with their children there is very little research in this area. This paper will address the challenges that this new frontier is presenting both men and women and I will draw from the current literature and my own personal experience.
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    Application of the Feminist Perspective in Social Work Practice with Women in Abusive Relationships
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2009) Mellinger, Marcela Sarmiento
    Working with women who have been abused by an intimate partner is something many social workers do at some point in their careers. Most have heard, and were likely taught, that approaches to working with abused women are based on the feminist perspective. However, although feminist theories have been developed, it is still difficult for some social workers to explain what they mean by “feminist perspective”. This paper will briefly discuss how the feminist perspective differs from feminist theories, will address five tenets of the feminist perspective as applied to situations where intimate partner violence (IPV) is present, and discuss areas where the application of this perspective can be strengthened.
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    Long Term Care in the United States and Turkey
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2009) Franklin, Felina
    The World Health Organization (WHO) (2009b) defines active ageing as “the process of optimizing opportunities for health participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age” and accepts people 60 and over as old (p.1). According to WHO (2009a), a proportion of people aged 60 and over in the world is growing faster than ever due to longer life expectancy and declines in fertility rates. Increases are seen as a success of improved health care and technologies, however, new challenges include adaptation and maximizing and utilizing health resources (WHO, 2009b). A shift in health care systems towards geriatric care, including prevention and management of chronic diseases and more formal long-term care systems is needed (WHO, 2005). The purpose of this paper is to compare long-term health care systems of the U.S. and Turkey in reference to similar population changes. Practice, policy, and research implications are discussed.
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    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2009) Delavega, Elena; Franklin, Felina; Walijarvi, Corrine; Pappadis, Monique R.; Balkin, Betul; Cummings, Tawana; Flores, David; Rose, Alexis; Tittsworth, Josephine; Villareal, Yolanda
    Editorial for volume 8 of Perspectives on Social Work, by the editorial board.
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    Understanding the Impact Of A Property Tax Levy on Provision of Senior Services and Quality of Life for Missouri Seniors
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2009) Moodie-Dyer, Amber
    Property tax levies or mill taxes have been increasingly relied upon to support senior services due to inadequate federal and state funding (Payne & Applebaum, 2008). Analysis of the effects of property tax levies on service availability, provision and access for seniors is in its infancy. Given the growing population of seniors and the aging out of the baby-boomer population, needs will continue to grow (Payne & Applebaum). The importance of effective funding techniques is paramount to the adequate provision of services to meet the needs of seniors in their communities. This study is based on a similar study conducted in the state of Ohio, the only other of its kind, in which counties with a senior service tax levy were surveyed about the number of seniors served, types of services, and amount of the levies (Payne, Applebaum, Molea & Ross, 2007). Ohio and Missouri are two of eight states which use county property tax levies to help fund senior services. Results of the Ohio survey indicated that levy funds are very popular and generally pass at a 65 to 35 percent margin. In addition, funds are most often spent on nutrition, transportation and in-home services (Payne et al.).
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    Dishing from the Cultural Pot: An African Instructor’s Experience Teaching BSW Courses
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2009) Christson, Adedoyin
    Social work literature abounds with reports of collaboration of U.S. social work schools with other schools of social work abroad, and the experiences of U.S. social work faculty teaching in foreign countries (Boyle, Nackerud, & Kilpatrick, 1999; Cornelius & Greif, 2005; Gilin & Young, 2009; Johnson, 1999; Tunney, 2002). Similarly, the narratives of the fieldwork experiences of U.S. social work students abroad are documented (Horncastle, 1994; Mathiesen & Lager, 2007; Rai, 2004). However, not much attention has been devoted to capturing the experiences of international educators teaching social work courses in the U.S. This paper seeks to fill this gap by describing some of the differences and challenges faced by those who come into America and teach BSW courses. It is presented from the point of view of an African doctoral student and his teaching experiences at a major university.
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    Perceptions: The Story of a Working Mother
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2009) Scott, Stephanie
    As the term “working mother” becomes a customary part of our everyday language it has become increasingly important for us to understand these women as they strive to perform their many roles: wife, mother, and worker. Therefore, the primary research question for this effort is what is the perception of a working mother? Women continue to increase their participation in the labor force due to the economic climate and with the stresses of modern day life there has been a great deal of interest in the social sciences research community to begin exploring the challenges of women in their attempts to manage their public (work) and private (home) spheres. According to Berke (2003), there have been extensive changes in our society’s economic, social, and demographic realms, which have altered both the family and the workplace. Managing the pressures of both the work and family spheres has forced people to identify new ways to balance both their employment and home lives. Also, those who work at home face a unique set of challenges and boundaries that impact one’s ability to manage both personal and professional. Berke (2003) states, …there are two different boundaries that home-located producers confront and negotiate. These include the management of boundaries between the household and the outside world [external boundaries] and the organization of boundaries among activities conducted within the household [internal boundaries].…home or work roles intrude on the time and space that is equated with the opposite realm’s roles, particularly for women. (p.515) Home is often a place of unpaid work for women, especially with respect to nurturing, caring, and expending emotional labor. Because of the gendered nature of household regimes, under certain circumstances, woman may perceive paid employment at home as affording them power and control. (p.517) The experience of females as mothers and workers in interaction with home and work responsibilities is very different from men’s experiences. Where men are more likely to see home as a place for respite, women tend to view home as additional work—a place of stress, demands, and prohibiting a private place for leisure time (Grant, 2000). As social workers, this area of study becomes increasingly important to our profession because if we are to understand and provide services to the working mother population it behooves us to get a sense of the stresses they face, their feelings regarding the challenges, and their perceptions of their various roles. From a social policy perspective, we must comprehend the challenges, barriers, and nuances of this population in order to advocate for and assist in developing policies and programs which are more worker/mother familiar.
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    The Influence of Patriarchy on Elder Female Substance Abuse
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2009) Sarabia, Stephanie Elias
    In order to understand the problem of substance abuse in older women, it is necessary to explore the political, social, and cultural factors that contribute to this social problem. Feminist theory points us to the pervasive impact of women living their lives in a patriarchal society, and illuminates how “sexism and female oppression seem intimately tied to women’s substance abuse” (Nichols, 1985).
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    PTSD in contemporary Veterans: The impediments to VA care
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2009) Young, Sharon L.
    The modern Veterans Administration (VA) system, traditionally resourced to meet the needs of aging veterans, is struggling to keep up with current demand for PTSD and other mental health services. Despite new policies designed to streamline and expedite VA mental health services, the bureaucracy of the VA is slow to respond to the dynamic demands of changing warfare (Yano, Simon, Lanto, & Rubenstein, 2007). The warfare experienced by soldiers in the Global War on Terror is very different from previous wars (Hoge, Castro, Messer, McGurk, Cotting, and Koffmann, 2004). Returning service personnel have experienced improved battlefield medicine and advanced body armor leading to fewer deaths, but a greater number of traumatized survivors has resulted (U.S. Government Accountability Office, 2008).
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    Book Review O’Connor, A. (2001). Poverty knowledge: Social science, social policy, and the poor in twentieth-century U. S. history. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2009) Kindle, Peter A.
    In less than 300 pages of text, Alice O’Connor, currently associate professor of history at the University of California at Santa Barbara, unveils how knowledge is constructed and how, once constructed, knowledge can become fodder for ideology and political manipulation. Thus used (or abused), knowledge shapes both the institutions (i.e., policies, procedures, eligibility standards) and the broader cultural meanings associated with the concept of poverty. Her central premise, written self-consciously in the frustrating (to liberals) period following the end of welfare promised in the 1994 Clinton welfare reform, is that future solutions to the problem of poverty are contingent upon “a redirection in contemporary social scientific poverty knowledge” (p. 4). Yet this volume does not contain a detailed blueprint for a future research agenda. In fact, she claims that “reconstructing poverty knowledge is more than simply a matter of generating new research questions for social scientists to pursue” (p. 8). What O’Connor is attempting to do is to awaken in her readers a deeper understanding of how knowledge is socially constructed. Her history of poverty knowledge becomes, then, a kind of case study or primer on how social scientists who desire to make a contemporary impact on social policy need to reflectively process the institutional, societal, and cultural import of their work.
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    Perspectives on Social Work Volume 7 (Spring 2009)
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2009) Scott, Stephanie; Young, Sharon L.; Krishna, Mohan V.; Temme, Leslie J.; Rosich, Gina; Sarabia, Stephanie Elias; Wang, Donna; Elias-Lambert, Nada; Kindle, Peter A.
    This is the full-text volume of Perspectives on Social Work, vol. 7 (Spring 2009).
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    Book Review: Arnold S. Relman, M. D. New York: Public Affairs, 2007. 205 pp. $24.00 hardback, ISBN- 10: 1586484818, ISBN-13: 978-1586484811. A Second Opinion: Rescuing America’s Healthcare
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2009) Elias-Lambert, Nada
    With healthcare reform at the forefront of political debate, Dr. Relman’s book comes at a timely point in American history. With the prevailing rhetoric and healthcare reform proposals being touted by recent presidential candidates, the general public may be having a hard time separating myths and self-serving claims from reality. In A Second Opinion, Dr. Relman provides a ‘second opinion’ about the state of our healthcare system and the major reforms it requires. He outlines a thoughtful and measured approach on how to effectively rescue America’s healthcare system. A Second Opinion does an excellent job of dispelling the confusion about healthcare reform and helps readers understand key facts and issues that demand new policies. Dr. Relman’s background as a practicing physician, author, professor and medical journal editor, in addition to his clear compassion for people, provide him with a solid background to write this book.
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    Expanding Our Vision in Child Welfare: Child Neglect from a Structural Violence Perspective
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2009) Krishna, Mohan V.
    Child neglect is the most prevalent type of child maltreatment in the United States (Allin, Wathen, & MacMillan, 2005; Roditti, 2005; Petras, Massat, & Essex, 2002). Children who experience neglect comprise more than half (59.2%) of all child maltreatment victims (Roditti, 2005). Child neglect is the most lethal form of child maltreatment, leading to more than a third of all child fatalities compared with 25.6% for victims of abuse (Roditti, 2005). Despite this widespread prevalence, child neglect has received limited attention in the health and social sciences literature compared to child abuse (Allin et al., 2005; Roditti, 2005). Child neglect emerges through a variety of factors, including family systems issues, parent-child interactions, individual pathologies of parents, and interactions between the parent and the environment (Petras et al., 2002). Despite this complexity, the problem of neglect has generally been framed and addressed in narrow terms. Policymakers, researchers, and practitioners have often viewed neglect through personal and gender-specific terms, most often as the failure of mothers to carry out their mothering responsibilities (Swift, 1995). As a result of all of these factors, effective practice models for working with families affected by child neglect are lacking (Petras et al., 2002).
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    Empirically Supported Practice or Evidence-Based Interventions? A Review of the Last Fifty Years
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2009) Temme, Leslie J.
    The movement to utilize evidence-based practices within the social work profession began in the late 1950’s. Initially known as the empirical practice movement, today it is called evidence based or research based practice. Improved understandings of foundations of social work practice as well as advances in research methods and technology have contributed to the flourishing of this movement. However, critics argue that this movement incorporates deterministic and often rigid practices. Are these efforts genuinely aimed at improving empirically based practices or is social work simply continuing its mission to justify itself as a profession? Who decides what is evidence based practice and who are the stakeholders? Where do practitioners and their rich history of practice wisdom fit in the scheme of things? This article explores the history and rationale of this movement, discusses pressures to utilize evidence-based practice, and examines whom actually benefits. While there is suggestion of forces beyond best practices that are contributing to this movement, it appears that the social work profession 19 remains mired in its quest to prove itself a profession, perhaps at the expense of the values that have been the foundation of the profession since its inception.
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    Risk Factors and Service Needs for Homeless Older Adults
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2009) Rosich, Gina
    Homeless older adults comprise a growing yet understudied segment of the population. While the majority of studies describing the characteristics of homeless people and their pathways to homelessness tend to focus on families and so-called ‘working age’ adults, some researchers have begun to consider the consequences of an aging society on policies and services for this population. Social workers can benefit from understanding the risk factors and service needs of older adults experiencing or at risk of homelessness in order to prevent homelessness and/or provide necessary services to assist older clients in gaining and retaining permanent housing.
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    Editorial from Perspectives on Social Work Volume 7 (Spring 2009)
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2009) Delavega, Elena
    Editorial for volume 7 of Perspectives on Social Work, by journal editor Elena Delavega.
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    Recruitment and retention of older adults: Lessons shared from conducting an intervention study
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2009) Wang, Donna
    Many social work researchers are hesitant to conduct intervention studies. A colleague of mine remarked, “No way would I conduct an intervention study. It’s like triple jeopardy: You need to bank on finding willing subjects, need to bank on them showing up, then you need to bank on changing them? No thanks!” In addition to these obstacles, intervention studies are also costly and time consuming. Despite some of the challenges associated with intervention research, I chose to do an intervention study for my dissertation, “The impact of a yoga intervention on the mental wellbeing and physical functioning in older adults living in the community.” The study was a classical experimental design that entailed designing a yoga intervention, recruiting a community sample from a low-income senior housing building, and carrying out the study using random assignment of subjects to either a yoga intervention group or a neutral socialization group that were shown movies. Measures for this study included depression, morale, hope, isolation, balance, flexibility, and lower body strength. In an effort to include as many subjects as possible, the study did not use inclusion criterion of a mental health diagnosis or cutoff score. Approval for this study was granted by Fordham University’s Institutional Review Board. Informed consent was provided for each subject at the time of enrollment. The informed consent and study procedures were carefully explained to each subject in a one-on-one setting. If the person agreed to participate in the study, she or he then signed an informed consent form. Because the residents of the senior housing building are presumed to be independent and capable of making their own decisions, it was unnecessary to involve any other parties. Researchers have been urged to share their struggles and successes regarding recruitment with other researchers (Harris & Dyson, 2001). Thus, the purpose of this article is to share some of my experiences and insights regarding recruitment and retention in order to help doctoral students decide if an experimental study may be feasible for their dissertations. This is important for at least two reasons. First, I hope it will allow doctoral students to determine how much time will be needed to carry out an intervention study. Second, it provides specific strategies and challenges that may be applicable to other types of intervention studies and target populations. Recruitment and retention of subjects for studies targeting older adults has been widely documented as more difficult than other populations. Arean and Gallagher-Thompson (1996) cite that between 70% and 80% of older adults approached to participate in mental-health studies agree to participate, whereas the standard in younger samples is 90–95%. Despite incorporating many strategies suggested by other researchers for increased recruitment, such as transportation to the cite, providing monetary incentives, and minimizing participant confusion by having the same interviewer administer baseline and follow-up measurements (Arean, Alvidrez, Nery, Estes, & Linkins, 2003), this study had a small sample size despite various and ongoing efforts to recruit participants. After multiple administrations of the intervention, the final sample size was 18 (N=18), with 35.3% of the eligible residents recruited into the study. Recruitment for the study began with hanging informational flyers around the building, distributing flyers under each resident’s door, word of mouth by building staff, and holding informational sessions about the study. If a resident expressed interest, she or he was instructed to return on the day of enrollment to provide informed consent and to complete the pretest. With these strategies, there was a limited response, and it became apparent that the recruitment strategy would need to be tailored to the population. Thus, each resident was personally invited to participate by either me or the building social worker. I offered to visit individual apartments to explain the study one-on-one prior to enrollment. Recruiting was considered exhausted after every eligible resident had been contacted.