197033 Integrating suicide prevention education in social work education: Faculty perspectives

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 10:30 AM

Betty J. Ruth, MSW, MPH , School of Social Work, Boston University, Boston, MA
Mark Gianino, MSW, PhD , School of Social Work, Boston University, Boston, MA
Jordana Muroff, MSW, PhD , School of Social Work, Boston University, Boston, MA
Donna McLaughlin, MSW , School of Social Work, Boston University, Boston, MA
Esther Hill, MSW, MPH , School of Social Work, Boston University, Boston, MA
Laura Ann Taranto, MSW, MPH , School of Social Work & School of Public Health, Boston University, Boston, MA
Suicide is a profound public health problem requiring a strategic national response, including the provision of training on suicide prevention and intervention (SPI) to all mental health professionals. Social workers are the leading providers of mental health services in the country, however, little is known about their SPI training. The only national survey on SPI focused on 598 practicing social workers; most indicated that their training had been inadequate (Feldman and Freedenthal, 2006). To our knowledge, there has been no national review of MSW curricula; however, exploratory research conducted by one MSW program showed that both students and field supervisors reported that SPI training was inadequate and minimal (Ruth, Muroff, McLaughlin & Gianino, 2008).

To better understand perspectives regarding integration of SPI into MSW curricula, a series of five 2-hour focus groups were conducted with MSW faculty members in four locations in Massachusetts, during 2008-2009. All MSW faculty members were invited by email, using a sample constructed from university websites (N=381). Participants (n=20) represented six of Massachusetts' eight MSW programs. The groups were facilitated by two MSW faculty members experienced in SPI and qualitative methods. Focus group transcripts were analyzed using qualitative methods and found the following themes: a lack of knowledge of SPI; crowded MSW curricula; lack of prevention-orientation in field; view of suicide as “individual” issue; and perception that MSWs were learning SPI in field, if not in the classroom.

The implications for MSW education will be explored including strategies for integrating SPI content into MSW curricula.

Learning Objectives:
As a result of attending this session, participants will be able to: 1) Describe faculty perspectives on issues related to the integration of suicide prevention and intervention content into MSW programs; 2) Explain some of the barriers and challenges associated with SPI integration; 3) Formulate plans for better integration of SPI into MSW curricula; and 4) Assess additional directions for MSW-related suicide education research.

Keywords: Suicide, Social Work

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Principal Investigator on this research, funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.