197507 Suicide prevention education in social work education: What do MSW deans, directors and faculty have to say?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 10:50 AM

Betty J. Ruth, MSW, MPH , School of Social Work, Boston University, Boston, MA
Jordana Muroff, MSW, PhD , School of Social Work, Boston University, Boston, MA
Mark Gianino, MSW, PhD , School of Social Work, Boston University, Boston, MA
Donna McLaughlin, MSW , School of Social Work, Boston University, Boston, MA
Abby Ross, MSW , School of Social Work, Boston University, Boston, MA
Esther Hill, MSW, MPH , School of Social Work, Boston University, Boston, MA
Suicide is a significant public health problem. Although social workers are the leading providers of mental health services in the country, little is known about suicide prevention and intervention (SPI) training in MSW education. The majority of social workers reported inadequate training in a national survey of social workers on SPI (Feldman & Freedenthal, 2006). Recent exploratory research on one program found that students and field supervisors reported minimal SPI training (Ruth, Muroff, McLaughlin & Gianino, 2008). To our knowledge, there has been no inquiry into the perspectives of MSW deans/directors or faculty on this issue.

To better understand the challenges of SPI integration, two 44-question online surveys, one for deans/directors (DD), and one for faculty members (FM), were developed and administered in 2008-2009. The samples were constructed using CSWE accreditation lists; DD (n=208) and FM (n= 2200?) email addresses were compiled from university websites and participants invited by email.

Findings: The DD response rate was 22% (n=46 of 208). Some 67.5% of (n=40) DDs reported that students received less than 4¬ hours of SPI training and 65% (n=28) indicated satisfaction with this. While 84.4% (n=38) indicated that SPI training was “somewhat/very important,” 88% (n=38) had no plans to increase it. Obstacles cited were “having other priorities,” “a crowded curriculum,” and “lack of faculty expertise.” FM responses are being collected and will be compared to DD.

Implications: Given their crucial role in shaping curricula, MSW deans/directors and faculty perspectives are essential to surmounting barriers to SPI integration in MSW programs.

Learning Objectives:
As a result of attending this presentation, participants will be able to: 1. Identify the barriers and challenges associated with integration of suicide prevention/intervention education into MSW curricula; 2. Differentiate the perspectives of deans/directors from those of faculty members on this issue; 3. Discuss strategies for strengthening SPI content and training in MSW curricula. 4. Identify first actions at one’s own institution to improve SPI training including the location of faculty support/resources.

Keywords: Suicide, Social Work

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Principal Investigator for the grant by which this research was conducted, 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.