222622 Social work interest in prevention: New findings from an ongoing content analysis of the professional literature

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 1:15 PM - 1:30 PM

Betty J. Ruth, MSW, MPH , School of Social Work, Boston University, Boston, MA
Jamie Wyatt Marshall, MSW, MPH , 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
Sarah Sisco, MPH, MSSW , Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response (OEPR), New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York, NY
Each day, over half a million US social workers provide services to people with health, mental health and substance abuse problems in a fragmented system that emphasizes treatment over prevention. Powerful issues, including health inequities, population aging, globalization, natural disaster, war, and economic downturn make the need for preventive approaches more critical than ever. However, little is known about current social work involvement in prevention. Because professional journals provide current information on research, theory and practice, prevention content in professional literature is one way to determine interest in prevention. A recent content analysis of nine peer-reviewed social work journals found that only 5.6% of articles published from 2000-2005 met the criteria for “prevention articles” (Marshall, et al, forthcoming; 2010).

To determine if the overall proportion of prevention articles was increasing over the decade, the research team from the initial study used three-person teams to analyze titles, abstracts, and text of articles published from 2006-2008 in Social Work, Journal of Social Work Education, Social Work and Health, Social Work Research, Families in Society, Child Welfare, Social Service Review and Journal of Gerontological Social Work. Out of 1082 articles reviewed, 11.95% (n=129) met the criteria for inclusion as prevention articles. These findings suggest that while prevention remains a minority interest area within social work literature, scholarly interest appears to be increasing during years 2000-2008. This expanded interest in prevention can enhance trans-disciplinary collaboration between social work and public health, building upon the mutual mission of enhancing population health and promoting social justice.

Learning Areas:
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related education
Social and behavioral sciences
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
1. Analyze the presence of prevention content in professional social work literature for publication years 2000-2008. 2. Discuss implications of an increased proportion of prevention articles in major social work journals. 3. Identify actions that can be taken by public health social work professionals to build upon prevention interest and visibility to promote linkages between public health and social work. 4. Describe the centrality of social justice to both the public health and social work professional missions.

Keywords: Prevention, Social Work

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have overseen this research project since its inception, and I directly supervised the data collection, analysis and writing. I am a public health social work educator, and have published on issues related to public health social work since 1998.
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.