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Social Work Theses, Projects, and Dissertations

Theses/projects/dissertations from 2024 2024.




Through the Lens of Families and Staff in Emergency Shelters , Elizabeth Barcenas



Correlation of Adverse Childhood Experiences and Somatic Symptoms in Adolescents , Shannon Beaumont

Caregivers of Dialysis Patients , Alyssa Bousquet and Amelia Murillo

Self-Care Habits and Burnout Among County Social Workers on the Central Coast of California , Jaclyn Boyd and Denise Ojeda







Homelessness In The Coachella Valley , Katrina Clarke

Challenges Veterans Encounter Receiving or Seeking Mental Health Services , Denise D. Contreras and Andrea Ramirez






Treatment not Punishment: Youth Experiences of Psychiatric Hospitalizations , Maira Ferrer-Cabrera







THE EFFECTIVNESS OF FEDERAL PELL GRANT PROGRAM , Maria Delcarmen Garcia Arias and Ashley Hernandez






Child Maltreatment Primary Prevention Methods in the U.S.: A Systematic Review of Recent Studies , Maria Godoy-Murillo

Assessing and Meeting the Needs of Homeless Populations , Mitchell Greenwald

Parity In Higher Education In Prison Programs: Does It Exist? , Michael Lee Griggs and Vianey Luna







Social Media Told Me I Have A Mental Illness , Kathleen Knarreborg





Childhood Neglect and Incarceration as a Adult , Marissa Mejia and Diana Gallegos








Bridging Training Gaps: Assessing Knowledge and Confidence of Mental Health Interns in Opioid Misuse Intervention for School-Aged Children and Adolescents , Carolina Rodriguez and Gabriela Guadalupe Gonzalez








Exploring the Experiences of Minority Former Foster Youths During and Post Care: A Qualitative Study , Caithlyn Snow

Factors that Contribute to Disparities in Access to Mental Health Services within Hispanic Adults , Jasmine Soriano







Stressors, Caffeine Consumption, and Mental Health Concerns among College Students , Stacey Trejo





Addressing Rural Mental Health Crises: An Alternative to Police , Faith Ann Weatheral-block

Theses/Projects/Dissertations from 2023 2023





Understanding Ethical Dilemmas in Social Work Practice , Arielle Arambula






Program Evaluation of Teen Parent Support Group , Brianne Yvonne Irene Brophy


Adverse Effects for Siblings Who Witness Child Abuse , Leslie Chaires



The Media and Eating Disorders , Diane Corey


The Investigation of Knowledge and Practice of Child Welfare Workers Providing Case Management to Children with Disabilities , Giselle Cruz

Examining The Relationship Between Technological Skills and Success In Higher Education Among Formerly Incarcerated Individuals , Ebony Cubias



Page 1 of 17

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206 Interesting Social Work Research Topics You Should Consider

social work research topics

Many students struggle to find suitable social work research topics. This field has many subjects that learners can explore in their dissertations. The simplest social work definition describes it as a set of functions that enable you to improve other people’s lives. A social worker helps children and adults cope with daily issues, personal issues, family issues, and relationship troubles.

Considering the scope of this field, selecting an ideal social work research topic can be challenging. Learners have many pressing issues that they can cover in their papers. Nevertheless, choosing an interesting topic is essential in writing a winning dissertation.

Social Work Research Paper Outline

Once you’ve chosen a topic for your social work dissertation or research paper, the next step is to outline it. Your outline should highlight the components of your work, incorporating the argument. Also, identify your stance on an issue, tying up the other parts of the paper because it will enable you to create a thesis statement. Here are the key sections to highlight in your outline.

Introduction: The intro should present your study’s background while providing relevant details of the problem. Use a strong opening phrase to grab your readers’ attention and engage them so they can read the rest of the paper. The introduction should present your study’s context, formulate its primary goal, and end with an effective thesis statement. Main body: This section should feature the main arguments. It highly depends on your research type and the methods you use. It may include a literature review analyzing other scholars’ findings and identifying gaps in previous studies. Also, this section explains the methods you use in your research, results, and discussions. Conclusion: The conclusion should summarize the findings and wrap up the dissertation. You can restate your thesis statement to remind readers about your position on the issue and your goal. The best approach is to reward the thesis statement persuasively while encouraging readers to think about the problem. Also, you can recommend further research explaining why the topic is worth exploring.

After drafting an outline, you can proceed to research and write your social work paper. Edit and proofread the work or seek professional assistance to ensure its quality.

General Social Work Research Topics Ideas

Maybe you want to write a thesis on general topics in this study field. In that case, here are ideas you can explore in your paper.

  • How substance abuse influence parenting
  • Teenager adoption- Happiness and hardships that come with it
  • How to address the inclination to commit suicide
  • Should society question the stigma surrounding mental sickness?
  • Foster homes and group therapy- Is it effective?
  • How does the lack of child support affect childcare
  • Investigating autistic children and social displacement
  • How does clinical depression affect adolescent children
  • How does continuous mobility influence orphan toddlers
  • Analyzing the stigma surrounding depression
  • How to manage intrinsic PTSD for medical veterans
  • Exploring the stigma surrounding disability
  • How homelessness influences a person’s psychology
  • How does displacement influence aggressiveness among street children
  • How the works of several agencies affect child protection
  • Exploring perceptions and attitudes of oppression between the community and health professionals
  • Addressing cultural perspectives- Transiting to social work
  • The social worker’s role in deciding to end life
  • Lifelong learning model- Exploring evidence-based practices
  • The reflection law- a learning model or self-indulgence in social work

These are general ideas worth exploring in your social work dissertation. Nevertheless, please select any of these titles when confident you will be comfortable working on them.

Common Social Worker Research Topics

Maybe you’re searching for something your readers can quickly identify with when reading your paper. If so, this section lists some of the best ideas to investigate in your social work thesis.

  • How to create dyslexia patients’ awareness
  • Analyzing similarities and differences between ADHD and dyslexia
  • How alcoholism affects personal, family, and social lifestyle
  • How a family can exacerbate depression
  • Why academic and social integration matter for kids suffering from down syndrome
  • Investigating the social exclusion of kids with down syndrome
  • The effectiveness of anti-depressants- A clinical study
  • How alcoholism affects a person’s psyche
  • The positive impact of sponsors on recovering addicts’ lives
  • Investigating family support and its effects on alcohol recovery
  • Why group therapy matters for foster home children
  • How clinical depression affects teenage girls
  • How the lack of support affects child care in America
  • How ADHD affects foster home children
  • How mental illness misdiagnosis affects people
  • How to address suicidal tendencies in military units
  • Why social interrogation matters when dealing with stigma surrounding mental illness
  • How parents’ bipolar affects their children’s lives and parenting
  • Is childhood displacement the cause of antisocial lifestyle among foster children?
  • The joys and struggles of teenagers’ adoption
  • Investigating the undisclosed rape violence cases among military women- How it affects their service and lives
  • How substance abuse affects parenting
  • Child-parent separation- Investigating the stigma it brings
  • Positive impacts of divorce on children’s lifestyle and health
  • Addressing substance abuse issues among teenagers
  • How death affects a family’s well-being
  • Family support study- Is it a viable option for alcohol recovery?

Most people will identify with these topics because they touch on issues with which they are familiar. However, investigate the matter you select carefully to develop a winning dissertation.

Exciting Social Work Research Questions

Maybe you want to answer a question in your thesis paper. If so, consider any of these questions as a topic for your essay.

  • How can you support an adult living with a disability?
  • What are the social and psychological impacts of student loans?
  • What are the psychological, physical, and emotional effects of incarceration of pregnant mothers?
  • What challenges do minority children face in foster homes?
  • Transformative change- Can police brutality enhance it?
  • How can society deal with the rising obesity in America?
  • How can we support bipolar patients?
  • What are the effects of incarcerated individuals’ entry into the community?
  • What is the percentage of incarcerated adults among minority groups?
  • Does substance misuse increase alcoholism cases?
  • How does community violence affect LGBT lives?
  • What is the difference between Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2?
  • Can trauma inform children’s education in foster homes?
  • Can protesting police brutality promote transformative change?
  • Does divorce affect all children’s psyches negatively?
  • Does foster homes’ trauma cause kids’ disappearance from the facility?
  • Can implementing learning curriculums with a positive impact on dyslexic students enhance academics?
  • Does trauma-informed learning reflect parenting?
  • Do food and house security affect foster children throughout their lives?
  • Has the criminal justice system failed social lifestyle in America?
  • What are the primary workplace trauma signs?
  • How can society address workplace violence?
  • How do scarcity and poverty affect young children’s psychology?
  • How can you identify depression in a teenager?
  • Has the American healthcare system failed minority groups?
  • What are the risks of kids-parent separation?
  • What are the impacts of living with dyslexia?
  • Is depression a mental disorder?
  • What are the effects of racial disparity?

Any of these questions can be an excellent title for your dissertation. Nevertheless, consult various information sources to write a high-quality paper.

Human Services Research Paper Topics

Human services is a part of the social work field dealing with issues related to human services, factors affecting them, and how to address the challenges. Here are ideas to consider in this category.

  • How to address panic, anxiety, and depression in young children
  • The psychological impact of human trafficking on victims
  • Psychological effects of child trafficking
  • Similarities between adult incarceration and juvenile delinquency
  • How unemployment affects people
  • Factors that increase depression cases among the youth
  • Police system- Defunded, reformed, or abolished?
  • How the carceral system in America affects minority and low-income homes
  • Social integration of dyslexic and down syndrome patients
  • Effective ways to enhance welfare conditions
  • Food banks and their adverse psychological effects
  • The benefits of food banks on American lives
  • The impact of home violence on children
  • The result of high school bullying
  • Why welfare workers need support groups and therapy
  • How to enhance love in foster homes
  • Resilience practice among social workers
  • Juvenile delinquency impacts in America
  • The shortcomings of America’s carceral system
  • How to address the homophobia issue in the U.S
  • How homophobia affects LGBT+ adults
  • What causes family violence?
  • How to address spousal violence
  • How family cruelty affects lives
  • Undiagnosed bipolar cases and their effects
  • Impacts of misdiagnosed mental illnesses
  • How to enhance LGBTQ+ kids’ support systems
  • The result of home insecurity on the homeless
  • How to bridge the gap between community members and formerly incarcerated individuals
  • Incarceration- Abolished or reformed?

These human services topics are worth investigating in a research paper. However, take the time to research your chosen title to write an exciting piece.

Controversial Topics In Social Work

Some social work essay topics are controversial. Some people find these titles controversial because they provoke public interest. Here are some of them.

  • Flood and hurricane survivors and their hidden trauma
  • How hurricanes affect low-income neighborhoods
  • Trafficking- How it affects a society’s social well-being
  • Unreported abuse cases in homes and how they promote violence
  • Social, health, and psychological implications of the abortion ban for rape victims
  • Why the community should enhance awareness of AIDS stigmatization
  • Therapy continuous cycle- Why a therapist requires therapy
  • The unnoticed and hidden trauma among therapists and counselors
  • How court-sanctioned confinement promotes mental illness instead of facilitating correlation
  • How to address violence- Is it a social problem in the correctional system?
  • Sexual health education- Is it vital for incarcerated women?
  • How social media affects a person’s mental health and well-being
  • The effectiveness of different types of therapy for treating mental health disorders.
  • The prevalence of Eating Disorders in developed countries.
  • The role of family dynamics in the development and treatment of Eating Disorders.
  • How do different cultures view mental health and mental illness?
  • Is there a link between creativity and mental illness?
  • Does psychiatric medication use lead to higher recovery rates from mental illness?
  • What are the most effective interventions for helping people with substance abuse problems?
  • How to deal with grief and loss?
  • How can we better support people with chronic physical health conditions?
  • Drug abuse- Is it increasing in low-income neighborhoods?
  • The negative impacts of incarceration on the imprisoned people’s psychological well-being
  • Reasons to investigate confinement and its dangers
  • Ways to help addicts facing high drug vulnerability
  • How cognitive-behavioral therapy enhances the relationship between social workers and their situations or environments
  • The health benefits of hypnosis on individuals
  • Why treatment is essential for less represented groups
  • Distinguishing undiagnosed depression and clinical depression
  • A qualitative investigation of dyslexia among adolescents
  • How empathy can enhance the social work sector
  • Why qualitative examination of foster homes for peace and child safety matters

These are controversial topics to consider in this academic field. Prepare to take a stance and defend it if you pick any of these social work project ideas.

Social Work Topics For Presentation

Maybe you want to include a presentation in your paper. That’s because social work is a practical field requiring some displays. Consider the following titles for your essay if you want to include a presentation.

  • What are Stockholm syndrome and its effects?
  • How to understand syndrome victims better
  • How incest affects homes
  • Investigating sexually violated kids
  • Why free healthcare matters in foster homes and low-income neighborhoods
  • How adult incarceration and juvenile delinquency affect society
  • Juvenile delinquency and trauma
  • LGBTQ+ children trauma and adolescent transitioning
  • Foster kids and neglect-syndrome
  • Why diversity matters in the social work sector
  • Social workers- Understanding their trauma
  • Foster parenting- What are the positive impacts?
  • Do foster homes create a safe space?
  • Foster parents and their roles in preventing violence
  • Social workers and their role in preventing drug abuse
  • The effects of domestic violence
  • Psychological violence and its damages
  • How spirituality affects techniques in social works
  • Social works and their historical development
  • Social work and its importance in schools
  • Why teenagers’ therapy matters
  • Exploring the challenges facing social workers in the forensics sector
  • Investigating the struggles facing the minority groups
  • Studying abuse and violence in middle-class homes
  • Why finance matters in social works sustenance
  • The impact of compassion fatigue
  • Modern social workers and their challenges
  • Drug abuse and its effects on children
  • Why inclusivity matters in social works
  • Same-sex relationships- Why they matter to a social worker
  • Why high schools need drug sensitization
  • Investigating depression stereotypes

Pick any of these ideas and use them to draft a paper that includes a presentation. Nevertheless, research your topic extensively to prepare a winning dissertation.

Interesting Social Work Topics

Some issues in social work draw more attention than others because they are unique. Here are such topics.

  • The impacts of pregnancy on teenage mothers
  • The increasing pressure and effects of social media on teenagers’ lives
  • How welfare systems relate to low-income neighborhoods
  • Why are rehabilitation centers are essential in America than carceral systems
  • How cultural beliefs and gender roles affect marriages
  • Low labor and its role in workplace abuse
  • How the increasing housing cost affects young millennials
  • The part of abortion bans on psychological issues
  • How birth control roles affect society negatively
  • How are teenagers, the general community, and school related?
  • Analyzing first-time menstrual experiences and their impact on teenage girls within foster homes
  • Wellness therapy and its sustainability
  • Investigating poverty prevalence in the American Deep South- How it prevents the growth
  • The implications of relationships on social workers’ interactions
  • The negative impact of conversion therapy on the LGBTQ+ community
  • How an inclusive and functional healthcare system enhances social growth
  • Shelter homes women- Investigating their life experiences
  • The prevalent racial disparity in food bank systems in America
  • Understanding social relegations and stigma of welfare mothers
  • Client-therapist relationship- Investigating psychiatric therapists and their work

These topics address relevant issues that society often neglects. Pick any idea in this category and explore it further through research and analysis.

Social Work Thesis Topics

Educators will ask you to write different papers when pursuing social work studies. A sociology thesis is among the documents you might write when pursuing a master’s or Ph.D. studies. Here are topics to consider for these papers.

  • Investigating expecting mothers’ postpartum depression
  • How interdependency differs from codependency among youth adults
  • Emotional unavailability in homes- Does it enhance codependency?
  • Codependency- Is it a displacement feature?
  • Foster kids and future attachment methods
  • Social work and disability disparity
  • Disability challenges facing the healthcare system
  • Compassion integration in social works
  • ADHD- What are the most common myths about it?
  • How emotionally immature parents affect their adult children psychologically
  • Drug addiction and treatment plans
  • Addressing challenges facing visually impaired students
  • Investigating foster homes and child abuse
  • The emotional impact of a transition into a nursing home
  • Exploring immigrant families and parenthood
  • The intricacies of child labor

These are exciting topics to consider for your social work thesis. Nevertheless, prepare adequate time and resources to investigate any of these titles to develop a paper that will earn you the best grade.

Get Professional Thesis Assistance

Perhaps, you have chosen a title but don’t have the skills or time to write a top-notch paper. Maybe you’ve never scored high grades on your report, and your professor or parent constantly reprimands you. In that case, you need help with your academic writing.

We offer fast, cheap, and some of the best dissertation services for college, university, and high school students. Our ENL and U.S writers are always ready to handle your project. Contact us now to get the best academic paper help online.

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80 Social Work Research Topics

FacebookXEmailWhatsAppRedditPinterestLinkedInAre you a student searching for captivating research topics in the field of social work? Look no further. Whether you’re pursuing an undergraduate, master’s, or doctoral degree, finding the right research topic is essential for a successful dissertation. Social work is a multidisciplinary field that addresses societal issues and promotes social change, making it an […]

social work research topics

Are you a student searching for captivating research topics in the field of social work? Look no further. Whether you’re pursuing an undergraduate, master’s, or doctoral degree, finding the right research topic is essential for a successful dissertation.

Social work is a multidisciplinary field that addresses societal issues and promotes social change, making it an excellent area to explore for your research. Our comprehensive list of social work research topics covers a wide range of areas, including mental health, child welfare, community development, social justice, and more.

By selecting a topic that aligns with your interests and career goals, you can contribute to the advancement of the field and make a positive impact on individuals and communities. Utilize available resources, such as research articles, case studies, and ethical guidelines, to support your study. With dedication and a passion for social work, your research can make a significant difference in the lives of those in need.

A List Of Potential Research Topics In Social Work:

  • What are the long-term effects of social isolation and loneliness on the well-being of older adults during and after the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Addressing the mental health needs of children and adolescents in foster care: Strategies for social work practice.
  • How has the shift to remote and virtual service delivery impacted the effectiveness of social work interventions?
  • Assessing the impact of social work interventions on improving outcomes for children in care in the UK.
  • The role of social work in promoting and supporting mental health among diverse communities in the UK.
  • The impact of social work research and evidence-based practice on improving service quality and outcomes in the UK.
  • Exploring the role of social work in promoting inclusive education and supporting students with special educational needs in the UK.
  • Assessing the effectiveness of social work interventions in supporting individuals with disabilities to live independently in the UK.
  • The impact of school-based social work programs on student academic success and well-being.
  • How has the pandemic affected the provision of social services to homeless populations, and what strategies can social workers employ to address homelessness?
  • How has the pandemic exacerbated existing health disparities and inequities, and what role can social work play in addressing these issues?
  • Exploring the effectiveness of early intervention programs in reducing child poverty and improving child well-being in the UK.
  • Assessing the effectiveness of social work interventions in addressing domestic violence and abuse in the UK.
  • Exploring the role of social workers in addressing homelessness and housing insecurity.
  • Examining the impact of social work interventions on improving outcomes for children in foster care.
  • How has the pandemic affected the prevalence and dynamics of domestic violence and child abuse, and how can social workers respond effectively?
  • The impact of digital technology on social work practice and service delivery in the UK.
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of mentoring programs for at-risk youth in promoting positive outcomes.
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of restorative justice practices in reducing recidivism rates among juvenile offenders.
  • The effectiveness of trauma-informed care in supporting survivors of domestic violence.
  • Addressing the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on long-term well-being: A social work perspective.
  • The impact of social work interventions on mental health outcomes in low-income communities.
  • Assessing the effectiveness of social work interventions in promoting rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders in the UK.
  • Exploring the role of social workers in supporting individuals with substance use disorders in recovery.
  • Evaluating the impact of school social work programs on student attendance and engagement.
  • The role of social workers in supporting older adults in aging-in-place and long-term care decision-making.
  • The role of social work in addressing poverty and income inequality in the UK.
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of school-based bullying prevention programs in promoting safe learning environments.
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of family preservation programs in preventing child removals.
  • Addressing racial disparities in the child welfare system: Strategies for social work practice.
  • Exploring the experiences of social workers in rural and underserved areas: Challenges and opportunities.
  • Exploring the experiences of social workers in crisis and disaster response.
  • Examining the impact of social work interventions on reducing child abuse and neglect.
  • The role of social workers in supporting individuals and families affected by addiction.
  • Exploring the experiences of social workers working in rural communities in the UK and the unique challenges they face.
  • The impact of social work interventions on reducing substance abuse among adolescents.
  • Exploring the role of social workers in supporting individuals with disabilities in transition to adulthood.
  • Exploring the role of social workers in promoting social justice and advocacy for marginalized communities.
  • What are the impacts of the pandemic on community organizing efforts and collective action for social change?
  • Examining the experiences of social workers in child protection services: Ethical dilemmas and decision-making.
  • Exploring the intersection of social work and technology: Opportunities and challenges.
  • Exploring the experiences of immigrant and refugee populations in accessing social services.
  • Assessing the effectiveness of restorative justice approaches in the criminal justice system in the UK and the role of social work in facilitating the process.
  • Evaluating the impact of community organizing efforts on social change and empowerment.
  • Examining the impact of social work interventions on reducing school dropout rates.
  • What are the impacts of school closures and remote learning on the well-being and educational outcomes of children and adolescents, and how can social workers support them?
  • How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted mental health outcomes and access to mental health services among vulnerable populations?
  • Addressing the mental health needs of frontline healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic: A social work perspective.
  • Exploring the experiences of social workers working in child protection and safeguarding in the UK.
  • Examining the experiences of LGBTQ+ youth in the foster care system and strategies for improving support.
  • The experiences and challenges faced by social workers in addressing the needs of older adults in the UK.
  • Exploring the experiences of social workers in supporting individuals with chronic illnesses.
  • The impact of Brexit on the rights and well-being of migrant populations in the UK and the role of social work in advocating for their rights.
  • How has the pandemic affected access to healthcare services for marginalized populations, and how can social workers promote equitable healthcare access?
  • Addressing the mental health needs of veterans: Insights from social work practice.
  • The impact of austerity measures on social work practice and service delivery in the UK.
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of community-based mental health services in reducing hospitalization rates.
  • The effectiveness of group therapy interventions in promoting mental health and well-being.
  • How has the pandemic affected access to food security and nutrition, and how can social workers address food insecurity in their communities?
  • How has the pandemic influenced the provision of services for individuals with disabilities, and what strategies can social workers employ to promote inclusivity?
  • What are the emerging challenges and opportunities for social work practice in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • How has the pandemic affected social work practice with immigrant and refugee populations, and how can social workers address their unique needs?
  • Examining the impact of social work interventions on reducing recidivism rates among adult offenders.
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of community-based programs in reducing elder abuse.
  • What are the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic for social work practice and preparedness in future crises?
  • The role of social workers in supporting individuals with disabilities in accessing employment and inclusive workplaces.
  • Addressing mental health stigma in culturally diverse communities: Strategies for social work practice.
  • The role of social work in addressing substance abuse and addiction issues in the UK.
  • Evaluating the impact of community-based interventions on reducing substance abuse and addiction.
  • What are the best practices for social workers in addressing the mental health needs of healthcare workers during and after the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • What are the emerging ethical considerations for social workers in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • How has the pandemic affected the prevalence and management of substance abuse and addiction, and what interventions are effective in supporting recovery?
  • Exploring the role of social workers in addressing human trafficking and modern slavery.
  • What are the unique challenges faced by social workers in providing telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Addressing the mental health needs of refugees and asylum seekers: Challenges and best practices.
  • Exploring the experiences of social workers in engaging with and supporting diverse religious and ethnic communities in the UK.
  • What are the impacts of the pandemic on child welfare services and foster care systems, and how can social workers ensure the safety and well-being of children?
  • What are the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health and well-being of frontline workers, such as social workers and healthcare professionals?
  • Exploring the experiences of social workers working with LGBTQ+ individuals and communities in the UK.
  • The role of social work in addressing homelessness and supporting individuals and families in accessing suitable housing in the UK.

In conclusion, we have presented a diverse range of social work research topics tailored for students at various degree levels who are searching for captivating ideas for their dissertation research. Social work plays a critical role in addressing societal challenges, promoting well-being, and advocating for social justice. Whether you are an undergraduate, master’s, or doctoral student, our comprehensive list of topics offers a wide array of research opportunities to explore current issues, examine interventions, and contribute to the advancement of the field.

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81 Social Work Research Topics to Consider for PhD Research

Browse our collection of wide-ranging research topics for social work that can make your project stand out.

phd dissertation topics in social work

Great Social Work Topics to Research: Signs, Features & Examples

The main thing to remember when seeking great social work research proposal topics is the need to focus on investigating actual problems. Major research areas are related to concepts, theories, and principles people use to interact with individuals and groups. Moreover, research also covers internal processes and functioning principles within social entities. The research helps to understand the problems better and find solutions.

Another important thing is that social work topics to research should be associated with the practice. Theoretical knowledge can’t be completed without a practical part. The research proposal topic should bring specific evidence, functional arguments, and tangible benefits. Your social work research topics should be revolutionary for the field and align with the latest trends.

research in social work

What Makes Qualitative Research Topics in Social Work Outstanding

Composing a proposal is essential if you need to conduct investigations in a particular field. Social work research proposals are required to outline your plan to study a specific area. In the research proposal, you should demonstrate impeccable knowledge of the field’s fundamental problems and an understanding of the research question set. It should clearly explain the social work research methods chosen and state the outcomes you expect to get.

The initial step in creating a proposal is finding an appropriate social work research topics ideas. However, selecting an exciting theme among myriads of options may be challenging, even if you narrow the search area. To simplify the process and provide you with the most valuable opportunities, we’ve collected some of the best ideas to inspire you for an excellent research proposal and further work.

Besides having a paper topic list, you may need an example of social work research proposal to complete the task successfully. This sample shows how the text is structured and how the information is distributed among all parts. Just look at how the research question is formulated here and how the author manages it to add more value to their work.

example of social work research proposal

Social Work Research Topics Ideas to Inspire You

Developing worthy scholarly research topics in social work is usually the hardest, especially if people must do it themselves. Without proper experience, it is sometimes difficult to assess the manageability of the study, the relevance, and the availability of supporting materials. To make the task easier, we present you with research topics for social work proposals that will inspire you and give you an idea of what to write a paper about.

  • Preparing Educators for Multiple Settings
  • Evaluation of the Impact of Innovation on Social Workers’ Performance
  • Support Services for Families in Need
  • Peer Service Providers in Addressing Reproductive Health
  • The Major Problems Encountered by Social Workers During Work
  • The Best Inclusive Practices on Education for People with ASD
  • The Impact of Gender Diversity in Schools
  • How Secondary Trauma Affects Adults
  • Importance of Religion in Reducing Stereotypes
  • The Impact of Death on the Collective Well-Being of the Family
  • How Does Evidence-Based Practice Influence Life-Long Learning?
  • How Homelessness Impacts People’s Psyche
  • The Best Social Inclusion Strategies for War Victims
  • Strategies to Support Single Parents
  • The Effect and Consequences of Mis- and Undiagnosed Mental Illnesses
  • The Cultural Importance of Generation Gap
  • Significance of Family Support as a Possible Way of Alcohol Recovery
  • The Impact of Alcohol on the Psychology of a Person
  • Proper Ways to Breed Love in Foster Care

Most of the ideas in this social work research topics list have a solid research base that you can use to conduct a detailed literature review and develop your own arguments. Reinventing the wheel is good practice, but the ability to find a worthwhile solution by examining an exciting question from a different perspective is just as good.

Controversial Social Work Research Topics List

As with different fields and areas, many paper topics relate to problems, situations, and cases that are worth discussing but often glossed over. Violence, trauma, and stigmatization are just a few examples of such issues that would seem better suited for psychology research proposals . However, these issues are no less important to consider in the social work context.

  • Exploration of the Effect of Poverty on Children’s Mental Health
  • The Impact of Student Loans on Learners Motivation and Well-Being
  • Helping Sexually Exploited Children
  • The Common Types of Elder Abuse and Ways to Prevent Them
  • The Major Stigma Associated With People Who Have Depression
  • Therapy and Support Groups for Welfare Workers
  • Coping With Imprisonment Stigma
  • Coping Strategies of Men During Violence at Home
  • Social Inclusion Measures for War Veterans
  • The Essence of Welfare Work Sector Diversity
  • What Are Disability and the Stigma Enveloping It?
  • Identifying the Practices Considered Neglecting Children
  • The Connection Between Divorce and the Health and Lifestyle of Children
  • Psychological Violence and Damages It Causes
  • Ways to Identify Trauma in the Workplace
  • Ways to Improve Living Standards in Foster Homes
  • Counteracting Bullying Aimed At Dyslexic Children
  • Impact of Corporate Social Responsibility on Community Wellbeing
  • Effects of Misdiagnosis of Mental Illness
  • How Home Violence Impacts Children
  • Challenges Faced by Minority Children at Their Foster Homes
  • Social Problems of ASD Children
  • Research of Social Reacts to Euthanasia
  • Undiagnosed Depression and How Family Exacerbates It
  • Ways to Control Addiction at Various Stages
  • Psychological Impacts of Child Trafficking
  • Sustainability of Wellness Therapy
  • Teenage Pregnancy Impact on Teenage Mothers
  • Negative Impact of Conversion Therapy Negatively on the LGBTQ+ Community
  • Spousal Violence and How to Address It

Research Topics for Social Work Students Who Want to Go Far

What do you want to achieve with your social work research proposal? Is it a common assignment you just need to handle, or will this project mark the beginning of your path to effectively helping people? Think about this when selecting a research proposal sociology topic, and consider choosing something that resonates with you personally.

  • Risks of Drug Abuse Among Adolescents From Disadvantaged Families
  • Negative Effects of Abusive Parenting
  • Investigation and Prevention Causes of Child Abuse in Orphanages
  • How Does Domestic Violence Affect a Family
  • The Strategies Put in Place to Encourage Women to Report GBV
  • A Study of Dealing With Dyslexia as an Adolescent
  • Trafficking: The Impacts of It on the Social Well-Being of a Society
  • Vulnerability to Drugs and Ways to Help Drug Addicts
  • Clinical Depression and Undiagnosed Depression
  • Therapy for Underrepresented Groups and Its Importance in Reducing Discrimination
  • The Dangers of Confinement and Why It Should Be Looked Into
  • The Challenges of Hurricanes in Low-Income Neighborhoods
  • Ways for PTSD Patients to Receive Inclusive Support
  • Gender Roles and Cultural Beliefs and Their Impact on Marriages
  • The Practice of Resilience Amongst Social Workers
  • The Protest Against Police Brutality
  • Sponsorship Impact on the Lives of Recovering Addicts
  • The Impacts of Constant Mobility on the Lives of Orphaned Toddlers
  • The Ways Physical Abuse Affects Spousal Intimacy
  • An Importance of Encouraging More Flexible Social Structures for Disabled People
  • The Greatest Risk of Fetal Alcohol Exposure
  • Transition to Social Work From Previous Employment
  • The Global Poverty of Modern Human Services
  • The Best Way to Establish a High School Service-Learning Program
  • How Mass Media Affects Educational Development
  • Factors Leading To Children’s Neglection in Society
  • The Effect of Mass Media on Childhood Socialization
  • The Best Autism Care Practices
  • The Generation Gap and Effect on Culture
  • How Family Cruelty Impacts Lives
  • Factors Contributing to Family Violence

To find more paper topic ideas, check out the social work research topics pdf and pick something to inspire yourself.

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Download Here More Social Science Research Proposal Ideas!

What else does the choice of research topics for social work students affect?

  • Data Collection and Analysis

Ensure your chosen proposal topic has enough materials to create a solid theoretical framework. Also, it often influences research methodology. For example, by selecting a qualitative research topic in social work, you should be prepared to organize focus groups, develop questionnaires, etc.

  • The Whole Work Process

A social work research proposal is just a plan for your work during the next several years. If you choose a paper topic that doesn’t interest you, you risk burnout and failing to earn the desired degree.

  • The Outcome and Research Success

Most research topics in social work are related to significant problems humanity faces. Thus, your proposal ideas should be practicable and relevant. They also should have measurable outcomes and lead to improvements in your field.

Let Experts Help with Social Work Research Proposals Preparation

The selection of research topics social work is only a part of the process. Next, you will need to collect and analyze available materials, design your own research, and cope with it, which may not be easy. Luckily, our seasoned proposal writing experts can help you not only with great inspirational ideas but also with their realization in the paper. No matter how complex and comprehensive your qualitative research topics in social work are, there are field-related PhD researchers to support you. Just provide us with the needed requirements and research materials, if any, and enjoy your well-written proposal paper delivered soon!

Why wait any longer? Get full-service assistance with social work research paper topics from PhD experts in your field!

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Digital Commons @ USF > College of Behavioral and Community Sciences > Social Work > Theses and Dissertations

Social Work Theses and Dissertations

Theses/dissertations from 2018 2018.

Transition of Persons with Developmental Disabilities from Parental to Sibling Co-Residential Care: Effects on Sibling Caregiver Well-Being and Family Functioning , Richard Steven Glaesser

An Exploratory Study of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Communication among Haitian Mother–Daughter Dyads in West Central Florida , Stacy Eileen Kratz

Theses/Dissertations from 2017 2017

An Exploration of the Relationship between Child Welfare Workers’ Ambivalent Sexism and Beliefs about Father Involvement , Katrina Lee Brewsaugh

Physical, Verbal, Relational and Cyber-Bullying and Victimization: Examining the Social and Emotional Adjustment of Participants , Melanie Mcvean

Understanding the Experience of Early-Onset Bipolar Disorder: A Phenomenological Study of Emerging Adults , Kristin M. Smyth

Theses/Dissertations from 2016 2016

A Mixed Methods Inquiry of Caregivers of Veterans with Sustained Serious "Invisible" Injuries in Iraq and/or Afghanistan , Bina Ranjit Patel

Exploring the Relationship of Healthy Lifestyle Characteristics with Food Behaviors of Low-Income, Food Insecure Women in the United States (US) , Kimberly Ann Wollard

Theses/Dissertations from 2015 2015

Development of the Professional School Social Work Survey: A Valid and Reliable Tool for Assessment and Planning , Catherine E. Randall

Clinical and Criminal Justice Outcomes in the Jail Diversion and Trauma Recovery (JDTR) Program , Daniel Harold Ringhoff

Theses/Dissertations from 2014 2014

Evidence-Based Practice Attitudes, Knowledge and Perceptions of Barriers Among Juvenile Justice Professionals , Esther Chao Mckee

Theses/Dissertations from 2013 2013

The Efficacy of Aggression Replacement Training with Female Juvenile Offenders in a Residential Commitment Program , Jody Anne Erickson

Rural Communities: How Do Individuals Perceive Change When Industry Enters the Area? , Katherine Danielle Ferrari

The Baby Blues: Mothers' Experiences After Adoption , Brigette Barno Schupay

Use of Services by Female Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence: In Their Own Words , Michele M. Scordato

Efforts to Engage Parents and Case Outcomes in the Child Welfare System , Patty Sharrock

Continuing Attachment Bonds to the Deceased: A Study of Bereaved Youth and Their Caregivers , Erica Hill Sirrine

Spiritual Life Review With Older Adults: Finding Meaning in Late Life Development , Alicia Margaret Stinson

Theses/Dissertations from 2011 2011

Children Who Die of Abuse: An Examination of the Effects of Perpetrator Characteristics on Fatal Versus Non-Fatal Child Abuse , Donald L. Dixon

The Mediating Role of Social Support and Fulfillment of Spiritual Needs in End of Life Care , Kimberley A. Gryglewicz

Theses/Dissertations from 2010 2010

Examination of the Effect of Child Abuse Case Characteristics on the Time a Caseworker Devotes to a Case , Christopher J. Card

Evaluating Social Work Students’ Attitudes Toward Physical Disability , Rachael A. Haskell

Theses/Dissertations from 2009 2009

Prevalence of Client Violence against Social Work Students and Its Effects on Fear of Future Violence, Occupational Commitment, and Career Withdrawal Intentions , Pamela Myatt Criss

An evaluation of the influence of case-method instruction on the reflective thinking of MSW students , Marleen Milner

Theses/Dissertations from 2008 2008

Developing a School Social Work Model for Predicting Academic Risk: School Factors and Academic Achievement , Robert Lucio

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Graduates' doctoral dissertations #.

Samantha Wolfe-Taylor 

The e-OSCE and Social Work Education: Creating Authentic, High-impact Practice Learning Opportunities for Students

Mary Provence  

How Public Libraries Respond to Crises Involving Patrons Experiencing Homelessness: Multiple Perspectives of the Role of the Public Library Social Worker

Paige Klemme    

Secondary Traumatic Stress: Pervasiveness and Contributing Factors in School Personnel

Danny Carroll Leaving Hate: Social Work and the Journey out of Far-Right Extremism

Minyoung Lim The Experience of Burmese Refugee Students in Higher Education: Blooming out of Concrete

Joe Bartholomew Predictors of Acceptance: Exploring Healthcare-Related Master’s-Level Social Workers’ Attitudes on Alcohol Use Disorder, Opioid Use Disorder, and Medicated-Assisted Treatment

Marcia French Post Liver Transplant Patient Outcomes and Survival: Impact of Demographics and Psychosocial Factors

Dolapo Adeniji The Influence of Social Isolation and Other Risk Factors on Older African Immigrants’ Emotional Well-Being

Stephanie Rudd Oppression in Social Work Education: How Do Oppression and Privilege Impact Social Work Educators’ Pedagogy?

Stephanie Q. Quiring Living with Serious Mental Illness, Police Encounters, and Relationships of Power: A Critical Phenomenological Study

M. Killian Kinney Learning to Thrive in a Binary World: Understanding the Gendered Experiences of Nonbinary Individuals and Ways to Bolster Wellbeing

  • Grace Yi Using Technology to Enhance the Well-Being of Caregivers of Persons with Dementia: Implications for Social Work Practice and Policy
  • Christine Bishop The Experiences of Latino Adolescent Mentees Growing-Up with a Single Mother and Mentoring Program Development: A Narrative Analysis Study
  • Sara Makki Alamdari Resilience-Related Outcomes Among War-Affected Arab Refugees in the U.S.
  • Lisa McConnell Lewis Deliberate Self-Harm in Young Children
  • Wafa Alhajri Women’s Perspectives on Social Change in Saudi Arabia
  • Pinkie Evans The Intersections of Military Family Culture and Black Family Culture: Challenges and Benefits of Being a Black Daughter in a Military Family
  • Drew Winters Social Cognitive and Affective Neural Substrates of Adolescent Transdiagnostic Symptoms
  • Matthew Walsh Examining Collaboration Within Child Welfare Multidisciplinary Teams: How Home-Based Therapists Respond to Conflict
  • Richard Brandon Friedman The Impact of Sexual Identity Development on the Sexual Health of Youth Formerly in the Foster Care System
  • Kristin Trainor Prenatal Substance Misuse: Exploring Healthcare Providers’ Attitudes and Perceptions
  • Evan Harris Sex-Based Employment Protections for Transgender Individuals: A Study of Title VII Legal Cases in the Sixth Circuit
  • I-Hsuan Lin Work-Family Conflict and Gender Equality: Theory Development, Responses of Policy Regimes, and Immigrants’ Experiences
  • Taekyung Park   Perspectives of transformational leadership by child welfare workers : impacts on turnover intention
  • Hyemin Son   Established multicultural families’ work and life : the impact of employment and perceived Korean husbands’ practical support on migrant wives’ life satisfaction
  • Sheila Dennis Applied Educational Neuroscience in Elementary Classrooms: A Grounded Theory Study
  • Jangmin Kim  Building Transformative School-Community Collaboration: A Critical Paradigm
  • Lalit Khandare    Domestic Violence and Empowerment: A National Study of Scheduled Caste Women in India
  • Haiping Chen     Developing the Organizational Competencies to Promote American Elders’ Civic Engagement
  • Steven Hyer        The Impact of Combat Deployment Experiences on Intimate Partner Violence in the Air Force
  • Aaron Willis        Using Marion County, Indiana Coroner Records and Deputy Field Officer Reports to Understand Heroin and Prescription Painkiller Overdoses

Isaac Karikari ​Child Labor: A Critical Discourse Analysis

  • Matt Moore Taking a Time-Out to Ensure Well-Being: Social Work Involvement in College Sports 
  • Rob Richardson Education on the Edge:  Underprepared Students in BSW Programs
  • Kori Bloomquist “A Piece of You is Gone:”  Foster Parent Experiences of Pre-adoptive Placement Disruption
  • Gail Augustine An Examination of Attrition Factors for Underrepresented Minority Undergraduate Students: Phenomenological Perspectives of Successful Students and Graduates
  • Susan Larimer From testing the water to riding the waves: New master of social work graduates’ journey from student to professional
  • Victoria Hanson The Meaning of Successful Aging Among Older Adults with Long-Term Disabilities
  • Jennifer Anderson Scaffolding in Interprofessional Education: Implications for Social Work Education
  • Kyle McGregor New Approaches to Research with Vulnerable Populations: Interdisciplinary Application of a Framework for Vulnerability and Adolescent Capacity to Consent
  • Leila Wood Domestic Violence Advocacy
  • Jennifer Wright Berryman The Influence of Decision-Making Preferences on Medication Adherence for Persons with Severe Mental Illness in Primary Health Care 
  • David Wilkerson Integrating Individual and Social Learning Strategies in a Small-Group Model for Online Psycho-Educational Intervention: A Mixed Methods Study of a Parent-Management Training Program
  • Govind Dhaske The Lived Experience of Rural Women Affected with Matted Hair in Southwestern India
  • Amy Murphy-Nugen From Homeownership to Foreclosure: Exploring the Meanings Homeowners’ Associate with the Lived Experience of Foreclosure
  • Barb Burdge A Phenomenology of Transgenderism as a Valued Life Experience Among Transgender Adults in the Midwestern United States
  • Janell Horton Exploring the Cultural Experiences of Family Case Managers: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
  • Zulkipli Lessy Philanthropic Zakat for Empowering Indonesian’s Poor: A Qualitative Study of Recipient Experiences at Rumah Zakat
  • Sung-Ju Kim The Impact of Federal Government Expenditures on State Government Expenditures and Philanthropic Giving to Human Services Organizations (HSOs): 2005-2006
  • Ankita Deka Racial Disparities in Self-Reported Health and Health Care Utilization:  Does Primary Care Matter?
  • Jieru Bai Development and Validation of the Acculturative Stress Scale for Chinese College Students in the United States (ASSCS)
  • James Brown Trajectories of Parents’ Experiences in Discovering, Reporting, and Living with the Aftermath of Middle School Bullying
  • Beth Muehlhausen Dual Degree Programs in Social Work and Divinity:  Graduates’ Experiences
  • Jaylene Schaefer Child Abuse Prevention by Home Visitors: A Study of Outstanding Home Visitors using Mixed Methods

Virgil Gregory Gregory Research Beliefs Scale: Factor Structure and Psychometric Characteristics

  • Delthea Hill African American Heterosexual Women Facing the HIV/AIDS Pandemic: Giving Voice to Sexual Decision-Making
  • Daniel Navarro Cross- Border Fathering: The Lived Experience of Mexican Immigrant Fathers
  • Carolyn Gentle-Genitty Impact of Social Bonding on Chronic Truancy: Perceptions of Middle School Principals
  • Betty Walton Predictors of Improvement for Children Served in Developing Systems of Care
  • Monique Busch Examining Organizational Learning for Application in Human Service Organizations
  • Michael Twyman The Lived Experience of African American Grandfathers Raising their Grandchildren
  • Greta Yoder Slater Firearm Suicide among Older Adults: A Sociological Autopsy
  • Glenna Barnes Understanding the Social and Cultural Factors Related To African American Infant Mortality: A Phenomenological Approach
  • Carol Decker Social Support, Family Environment, and Coping in Adolescents with Cancer

Marty Pentz Cancer: The Lived Experience of the Older Adult

  • Celia Williamson Entrance, Maintenance, and Exit:  The Socio-Economic Influences and umulative Burdens of Female Street Prostitution
  • Jacqualyn Green Factors in African American Social Work Student Persistence

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Home > School, College, or Department > SSW > Dissertations and Theses

School of Social Work Dissertations and Theses

Theses/dissertations from 2024 2024.

Understanding the Other: Mentor Ethnocultural Empathy and Relationship Quality and Duration in Youth Mentoring , Miriam Miranda-Diaz

The Mirror Project: Reflections on the Experiences of African-American Female Adolescents Experiencing Foster Care , Bahia Anise-Cross DeGruy Overton

Theses/Dissertations from 2023 2023

Does Structural Racism Influence How Black/African Americans Define Memory Loss and Cognitive Impairment? An Africana Phenomenological Study , Andre Pruitt

Prosecutors or Helpers: An Institutional Ethnography of Child Protective Services Casework , Anna Maria Rockhill

Theses/Dissertations from 2022 2022

A Critical Discourse Analysis of How Youth in Care Describe Social Support , Jared Israel Best

Examining Demographic and Environmental Factors in Predicting the Perceived Impact of Cancer on Childhood and Adolescent Cancer Survivors , Nazan Cetin

Health Literacy and People Diagnosed with Mental Illness , Beckie Child

High School Persisters and Alternative Schools , Hyuny Clark-Shim

Examining the Role of Social Support and Neighborhood Deprivation in the Relationship Between Multiple ACEs and Health Risk Behaviors , Marin L. Henderson-Posther

A Typology of Foster Home Quality Elements in Relation to Foster Youth Mental Health , Paul Sorenson

"I'm Very Enlightened:" Assisting Black Males Involved in the Criminal Justice System to Deal With and Heal From Racism , Darnell Jackie Strong

The Mechanisms Connecting State Marijuana Policies to Parent, Peer, and Youth Drug Perception Leading to Youth Marijuana Use , Eunbyeor Sophie Yang

Theses/Dissertations from 2021 2021

E(Raced): Race and Use of Self Amongst BIPOC Social Workers , Anita Reinette Gooding

Theses/Dissertations from 2020 2020

A Colorless Nature: Exploring the Mental Health (Help-Seeking) Experiences of Pre-Adolescent Black American Children , Christopher Ashley Burkett

The Economically Disadvantaged Speak: Exploring the Intersection of Poverty, Race, Child Neglect and Racial Disproportionality in the Child Welfare System , Angela Gail Cause

Examining the Narratives of Military Sexual Trauma Survivors , Maria Carolina González-Prats

Theses/Dissertations from 2019 2019

Our Vision of Health for Future Generations: an Exploration of Proximal and Intermediary Motivations with Women of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma , Danica Love Brown

Interrogating the Construction and Representations of Criminalized Women in the Academic Social Work Literature: a Critical Discourse Analysis , Sandra Marie Leotti

Learning From Culturally Specific Programs and Their Impact on Latino Parent Engagement , Analucia Lopezrevoredo

Physical and Emotional Sibling Violence and Child Welfare: a Critical Realist Exploratory Study , Katherine Elizabeth Winters

Theses/Dissertations from 2018 2018

Is Therapy Going to the Dogs? Evaluating Animal Assisted Therapy for Early Identified At-Risk Children , Leah Faith Brookner

Investigating Time During Residential Program Until Transition for Adjudicated Youth: a Mixed Methods Study Using Event History Analysis with Follow-Up Interviews , Emily Carol Lott

Role of Spouse/Partner in Fertility Preservation Decision Making by Young Women with Cancer , Aakrati Mathur

Exploring the Association of Victimization and Alcohol and Marijuana Use among American Indian Youth Living On or Near Reservations: a Mixed Methods Study , Lindsay Nicole Merritt

The Intersections of Good Intentions, Criminality, and Anti-Carceral Feminist Logic: a Qualitative Study that Explores Sex Trades Content in Social Work Education , Meg Rose Panichelli

Latinas and Sexual Health: Correlates of Sexual Satisfaction , Christine Marie Velez

A Foucaultian Discourse Analysis of Person-Centered Practice Using a Genealogical Framework of Intellectual Disability , Nick Winges-Yanez

Theses/Dissertations from 2017 2017

Foundational Knowledge and Other Predictors of Commitment to Trauma-Informed Care , Stephanie Anne Sundborg

An Analysis of Oregon Youth Authority Populations: Who Receives Treatment and What Factors Influence Allocation of Treatment Resources? , Rebecca Arredondo Yazzie

Theses/Dissertations from 2016 2016

The Importance of Online Peer Relationships During the Transition to Motherhood: Do They Decrease Stress, Alleviate Depression and Increase Parenting Competence? , Bobbie Sue Arias

Bridging the Worlds of Home and School: a Study of the Relational Worlds of First-Generation Students in a School of Social Work , Miranda Cunningham

An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis of Long-Term Mentoring Relationships from the Youth Perspective , Kevin Richard Jones

The Development and Validation of the Social Recovery Measure , Casadi "Khaki" Marino

Theses/Dissertations from 2015 2015

A Queer Liberation Movement? A Qualitative Content Analysis of Queer Liberation Organizations, Investigating Whether They are Building a Separate Social Movement , Joseph Nicholas DeFilippis

Got Hair that Flows in the Wind: The Complexity of Hair and Identity among African American Female Adolescents in Foster Care , Lakindra Michelle Mitchell Dove

Assessing the Impact of Restrictiveness and Placement Type on Transition-Related Outcomes for Youth With and Without Disabilities Aging Out of Foster Care , Jessica Danielle Schmidt

Fathers Caring for Children with Special Health Care Needs: Experiences of Work-Life Fit , Claudia Sellmaier

Investigating the Impact of Sibling Foster Care on Placement Stability , Jeffrey David Waid

Theses/Dissertations from 2014 2014

Understanding Sexual Assault Survivors' Willingness to Participate in the Judicial System , Mildred Ann Davis

The Relationship between Mindfulness and Burnout among Master of Social Work Students , Jolanta Maria Piatkowska

Out of the Way and Out of Place: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the Experiences of Social Interactions of Bisexually Attracted Young People , A. Del Quest

Strengths in Action: Implementing a Learning Organization Model in a Human Service Setting , Barbara Ann Whitbeck

Theses/Dissertations from 2013 2013

"Who Would Have Thought, With a Diagnosis Like This, I Would be Happy?": Portraits of Perceived Strengths and Resources in Early-Stage Dementia , Jutta Elisabeth Ataie

Lost in the Margins? Intersections Between Disability and Other Non-Dominant Statuses with Regard to Peer Victimization and Psychosocial Distress Among Oregon Teens , Marjorie Grace McGee

Teachers' Negative Comments Toward Youth in Foster Care with Disabilities: How Do They Relate to Youths' Problem Behaviors, School Attitudes, and School Performance? , Sunghwan Noh

Exploring the Effects of Multi-Level Protective and Risk Factors on Child and Parenting Outcomes in Families Participating in Healthy Start/Healthy Families Oregon (HS/HFO) , Peggy Nygren

Public Opinion and the Oregon Death with Dignity Act , Peggy Jo Ann Sandeen

The Role of Psycho-Sociocultural Factors in Suicide Risk Among Mong/Hmong Youth , TangJudy Vang

Theses/Dissertations from 2012 2012

Increasing Social Work Students' Political Interest and Efficacy: The Experience and Impact of a Social Welfare Policy Course from the Students' Perspective , Christie Dianne Bernklau Halvor

Exploring Support Network Structure, Content, and Stability as Youth Transition from Foster Care , Jennifer E. Blakeslee

Understanding the Experience of Air Force Single Parents: A Phenomenological Study , Samantha Everhart Blanchard

Implementer Perspectives: The Implementation of a School-Based Mentoring Program , Amanda Angela Fixsen

Risk Factors for Homelessness Among Community Mental Health Patients with Severe Mental Illness , Rupert Talmage van Wormer

Theses/Dissertations from 2011 2011

Gender, Culture, and Prison Classification: Testing the Reliability and Validity of a Prison Classification System , Aimée Ryan Bellmore

An Investigation of the Relationships between Violence Exposure, Internalizing and Externalizing Problems, and Adolescent Alcohol Use , Gregory Lloyd Forehand

Identifying Modifiable Factors associated with Depression across the Lifespan in Stroke Survivor-Spouse Dyads , Michael Joseph McCarthy

Investigating the Predictors of Postsecondary Education Success and Post-College Life Circumstances of Foster Care Alumni , Amy Michele Salazar

Runaway and Homeless Youth: Changing the Discourse by Legitimizing Youth Voice , Donald Dale Schweitzer

Theses/Dissertations from 2010 2010

Visions and Voices: An Arts-Based Qualitative Study Using Photovoice to Understand the Needs and Aspirations of Diverse Women Working in the Sex Industry , Moshoula Capous Desyllas

Somatization and Engagement in Mental Health Treatment , Teresa Chianello

Parental Differential Treatment (PDT) of Siblings: Examining the Impact and Malleability of Differential Warmth and Hostility on Children's Adjustment , Brianne H. Kothari

Understanding the Development of Self-determination in Youth with Disabilities in Foster Care , Jennifer L. Powers

Child Welfare Workforce Turnover: Frontline Workers' Experiences with Organizational Culture and Climate, and Implications for Organizational Practice , Melanie Dawn Sage

Theses/Dissertations from 2009 2009

Developing One's Self: Adoption and Identity Formation Through the Eyes of Transracially Adopted Native American Adults , Jody Becker-Green

Primary Care, Males, Masculinity, and Suicide : a Grounded Theory Study , John Thomas Casey

Dependent Care and Work-Life Outcomes : Comparing Exceptional Care and Typical Care Responsibilities , Lisa Maureen Stewart

Factors Associated with Inclusion of Spirituality in Secular Social Work Education , Leslie Grace Wuest

Theses/Dissertations from 2008 2008

Up a Creek : the Perilous Journey of Recently Uninsured Low-Income Adults in Oregon , Heidi Allen

Attributes of Effective Head Start Mental Health Consultants : a Mixed Method Study of Rural and Urban Programs , Mary Dallas Allen

Staying Within the Margins: The Educational Stories of First-Generation, Low-Income College Students , Diane Lyn Cole

Children with Incarcerated Parents : a Longitudinal Study of the Effect of Parental Incarceration on Adolescent Externalizing Behaviors , Jean Mollenkamp Kjellstrand

The Child Care Self-Sufficiency Scale: Measuring Child Care Funding and Policy Generosity across States , Karen Tvedt

Theses/Dissertations from 2007 2007

Family-Friendly Workplace Culture, Flexibility, and Workplace Support for Dependent Care : the Perspectives of Human Resource Professionals , Katherine June Huffstutter

Family Participation : Exploring the Role it Plays in Outcomes for Youth with Serious Emotional Disorders , Jodi Lee Kerbs

"Creative Interpretation and Fluidity in a Rights Framework": the Intersection of Domestic Violence and Human Rights in the United States , Karen Lynn Morgaine

Food Security and Hunger among Low income US Households: Relations to Federal Food Assistance Program Participation , Rebecca Elizabeth Sanders

Engaging Our Workforce: How Job Demands and Resources Contribute to Social Worker Burnout, Engagement and Intent to Leave , Sara Laura Schwartz

Theses/Dissertations from 2006 2006

Is It Just Me? Felt HIV -Related Stigma among Adults with HIV , Rebecca Gila Block

Social Workers Addressing Student-Perpetrated Interpersonal Violence in the School Context : Awareness and Use of Evidence-Supported Programs , Natalie Diane Cawood

Sons Providing Care at End-of-Life : Common Threads and nuances , Patricia Ebert

Theses/Dissertations from 2004 2004

Applying the Transtheoretical Model to Cigarette Smoking by Pregnant and Parenting Adolescent Females , Barbara Mary Sussex

Theses/Dissertations from 2002 2002

Identifying and Building on Strengths of Children With Serious Emotional Disturbances , Michael Orval Taylor

Theses/Dissertations from 2001 2001

A Dissertation on African American Male Youth Violence: "Trying to Kill the Part of You that Isn’t Loved" , Joy DeGruy Leary

Theses/Dissertations from 1999 1999

Voices of our past: the rank and file movement in social work, 1931-1950 , Richard William Hunter

The Assessment of Children with Attachment Disorder: The Randolph Attachment Disorder Questionnaire, the Behavioral and Emotional Rating Scale, and the Biopsychosocial Attachment Types Framework , Alice Myrth Ogilvie

Theses/Dissertations from 1997 1997

Grandmothers Laughing: Intergenerational Transmission of Cultural Beliefs About Pregnancy and Childbirth Among Native American Women , Claudia Robin Long

Theses/Dissertations from 1983 1983

The needs of older people as seen by themselves and support providers , Sarah Movius Schurr

Theses/Dissertations from 1981 1981

Non-work-related services at the workplace : an exploratory study , William Roland Adix, Elizabeth March Christie, James J. Christrup, Carol M. Kaulukukui, Jennifer Idris Lenway, Cynthia A. Nelson, Linda S. Rielly, Steven Sorlien, Kathleen A. Sweeney-Easter, Lynn Campbell Tate, Patricia Jones Warman, and Donn C. Warton

Assessment of Needs of Adolescent Mothers in Washington County , John L. Arnold, Jean C. Austin, Gary L. Brink, Jane Hall, Patricia C. Hanson, Valerie A. Ivey, April A. Moran, John P. Pank, Mark J. Skolnick, James A. Tarr, and Roberta B. Vaughn

Burnout: Multi-Dimensional Study of Alienation Among Social Service Workers in the Willamette Valley , Sally Carignan, John Deihl, Judy Harris, Jay Jones, Bonnie Rothman, Sabrina Ullmann, Beth Weinberg-Gordon, Phyllis Weter, Patricia Whitty, and Loretta Wilson

Alternative Agencies: An Exploratory Study , Linda Crane, Carolyn M. Curnane, Mike Echols, Mary Ann Hanson, Susan Kouns, Richard Ono, Mark Pierman, Susan K. Rademacher, Sara Weisberg, and Bea Zizlavsky

An Alumni survey of the School of Social Work, Portland State University , Stephen R. Fishack, Robert A. Forlenza, Susan D. Fredd, Gigi Gandy, William P. Goldsmith, Thomas L. Grier, and Sheila K. Lehto

A Description and Evaluation of the Self-Help Information Service , Cathy Tuma and John Wadsworth

The Portland, Oregon ASAP : an evaluation of treatment effectiveness , Joan M. Wildebush Berry, Stefani K. Cuda, Judi L. Edwards, Mary E. Ericson, Emilie Ford Frisbee, Steve Ernest Hand, Mary Anne Hannibal, Laurel M. Myers, Sharon Lee Perry, Loree Richards, Barbara Burns Schmidtke, Stephen Walker Voris, and Barbara M. Westby

Theses/Dissertations from 1980 1980

Multiple impact therapy : evaluation and design for future study , Jacqueline H. Abikoff, Dennis C. Anderson, Patricia C. Bowman, Carolyn Crawford Caylor, Nancy W. Freeland, Jan A. Godfrey, Marlene Graham, Kelly Ann Mason Hall, Mary J. Hatzenbeler, Susan C. Hedlund, Carol Lewis Kast, Gayle Matson Lansky, Janet M. Lewis, Kathleen Patricia Muldoon, Victoria A. G. Stoudt, and Anita Waage

Salem Teen Mother Program : a follow-up study , Frances L. Barton, Florence C. Berman, Sharon M. Bertoli-Nordlof, Marilyn L. Cooper, Claire K. Murray, Rosanne Peratrovich, Arlene M. Showell, and Julio C. Velazquez

Evaluative Styles of Clinicians in Private Practice , Daniel R. Brophy, Elliot M. Geller, Stephan L. Grove, Nancy E. Hedrick, A. Jill Nelson, and Babette A. Vanelli

Adaptation to dominant society : a self study of a woman of mixed race, black/Indian , Helen Marie Camel

A study of the crisis nature of the preparenthood period and implications for preventative social work practice , Julie Jean Colton

A Generalist approach to social work practice : model and synthesis , Chuck H. Johnson, Paul S. Knight, Michael W. Krumper, and John H. Rademaker

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Four people sit around a table in a classroom engaged in discussion. There are laptops, cell phones and water bottles on the table.

The dissertation is the hallmark of all doctoral-level study and represents the achievement of a high level of professional performance as a practitioner/researcher. You will be required to complete an independent scholarly research project and examine a topic relevant to clinical social work. By completing the dissertation, you will demonstrate your capacity to contribute to the development and dissemination of knowledge for the profession. 

Required Research Courses 

To prepare for your dissertation you will take a series of required research courses that provide the foundation of knowledge required both to assess prior research and to design and implement one’s own research. Our faculty teach core research methods, including advanced statistics, in depth. 

Dissertation Seminar 

During your final summer you will complete a dissertation seminar to support you in developing your dissertation proposal. If you are well along in preparation of your proposal you may opt to take the dissertation seminar during your second summer. We will assign you a research supervisor to assist in identifying and refining an area of study for your dissertation. 

Dissertation Committee 

You are responsible for identifying and recruiting a dissertation committee to assist in the development of your dissertation proposal and in the completion, reporting and defense of the project. The program’s director will assist you in the process. They will also approve the committee, which must include a chair and at least two more members. 

Institutional Review Board 

The Smith College Institutional Review Board is responsible for oversight of projects involving human participants. 

Past Dissertation Titles 

Smith College School for Social Work dissertations 2009 - present are available to the Smith community (including off-campus access with a current Smith login), anyone on campus and anyone via interlibrary loan through Smith ScholarWorks .

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185 Social Work Dissertation Topics: Creative List

185 Social Work Dissertation Topics

If you are a student of social work, then there are so many subjects that you can write about in your dissertation topic. Social work, in simple terms, is a set of functions that allow you to improve the lives of others. Social workers help adults and children cope with everyday issues, relationship troubles, personal issues and family issues. Given the scope of work of a social worker, finding the right social work dissertation topics can be challenging as there are so many pressing issues to cover.

In order to write a good paper and choose a topic that interests you, here are a few things that you should consider:

Choose a topic that is close to your heart : If you have chosen social work as your field of study, then there must be some area of work that intrigues you. This could be related to child care, women’s rights or health. To write a good paper, choose a subject that is of interest to you and will help you in your line of work going forward. Make sure your topic is supported by data : Choose topics that have enough data to present strong arguments and discussions. The paper should be thought provoking : Once you have got an approval on your proposed social work dissertation topics, use as much information that is relatable. The readers should take back some ideas from your paper and also have questions about how the system can be improved to fulfill the purpose of social work. This means that you need to find loopholes in the system and address them in your paper effectively.

Now that you know what a good social work dissertation paper entails, here is a list of topics to help you start your journey. However if you have more interesting things to do, remember you have an opportunity to buy dissertation and get the best result.

Social Work Dissertation Ideas

These are good dissertation topics for social work students at all academic levels:

  • Write an in-depth paper on the perception and attitude of oppression between the community and healthcare professionals.
  • Write about the inherent perceptions related to social work among different cultures.
  • A comprehensive review of different approaches to strengthen users of social services.
  • The role of social workers in end-of-life decisions.
  • Is evidence based learning an excellent way of learning for social workers?
  • What are your views on the law of reflection and its role in social work?
  • What are the challenges faced by social workers with respect to inter-professional practices?
  • Is tutoring an integral part of social work training? Write your views.
  • Social work and government policies: Write a detailed review.
  • How social work interventions can protect vulnerable adults.
  • The common security issues faced by personal social workers.
  • Transitioning from employment to social work: Challenges and advantages.
  • Substance abuse among young adults. The role of social workers in prevention and management.
  • A review on why women choose to remain in abusive relationships.
  • The contribution of social services in helping families cope with a member with dementia.
  • The relationship between social work and communities of faith.
  • The role of social workers in promoting ethnic minorities.
  • The best ways in which social workers can improve the life of the elderly.
  • Does social work impact the quality of life of senior citizens?
  • Disparities in the society that can be resolved to improve the lives of ethnic minorities.
  • The importance of being gender sensitive in addressing the issues faced by the LGBTQ community.
  • Is rehabilitation of young offenders the new way of ensuring restorative justice?
  • Laws that allow the representation of marginalized societies in the government.
  • Can prohibition of alcohol preserve law and order in a community?
  • The role of drug addiction in increasing relationship problems within families.
  • The primary factors contributing to juvenile delinquency.
  • Does imposing a curfew on minors lead to increased chances of premarital sex?
  • The role of the media in determining the electoral process of any country.
  • Provide great examples of good governance with respect to the recovery of a city or locality after being affected by a natural calamity.
  • Provide a social work perspective on the growing popularity of political figures and icons.
  • How does education contribute to the ability of leaders to shape the social and political structure of a country?
  • Can reactivating the death penalty change the rate of crime in our society?
  • Do individuals who are in illicit relationships perceive the norms of a marriage differently?
  • Experiences with healthcare of people who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
  • Culture-based activism and its impact on the lives of Native Americans.

Easy Social Work Research Topics

These social work research topics cover a range of relatable and controversial subjects for you to write about.

  • How can survivors of domestic violence get better employment opportunities?
  • A study of women with sexual addiction.
  • Reintegration of individuals who have survived abuse into the society.
  • The primary causes and the best ways to prevent juveni;e recidivism.
  • Examples of great women leaders in our community.
  • Should immigrants be given health services?
  • What are the best housing options to support young people?
  • Medical care for the elderly: The challenges.
  • A detailed study of the relationships of HIV positive individuals.
  • Is customer satisfaction the most important goal for a business?
  • The barriers in social work with respect to climate change.
  • The experience of a home care worker in a caring relationship.
  • Are voluntary tourism communities in Chile an example of social development?
  • Why do we still hesitate to talk about sex?
  • How does organizational culture contribute to marginalism?
  • The role of leadership practices in eliminating new forms of marginalism.
  • Graduate students and the attitude towards couples therapy.
  • Review the employment services for domestic violence survivors in your region/ country.
  • Evaluate eviction risks based on social and cultural perceptions.
  • Write about the experiences of women who are in a relationship with an individual who is sexually addicted.
  • Provide a qualitative study of resilience and risk associated with young people.
  • How does health affect the employment of refugee and immigrant women?
  • Does encouraging traveling among women promote community leadership?
  • Humanities and the relationship with citizenship.
  • The perspectives of youth and service providers on the impact of housing options for young adults.
  • The role of arts in boosting healing processes.
  • How has dance impacted society?
  • How to improve medical facilities in rural areas?
  • The experiences of rural individuals with social workers.
  • How do the concepts of our society affect the lives of individuals with HIV and AIDs?
  • Improving care for individuals with HIV and AIDS.
  • Explore the nature of collaboration between individuals who suffer from poverty and various organizations in regions that are at a high economic and social risk.
  • The importance of sexual health education for immigrant women.
  • The social risks of gender identity.
  • How can the theory of dynamic systems be applied to countries that are in a war situation?

Child Protection Dissertation Ideas

Here are some good dissertation topics for social work students who are interested in childcare services:

  • The impact of agencies in protecting children: Provide a review of literature based on real practices.
  • Will children who experience or witness abuse and violence within the family perpetuate the same type of behavior?
  • Impact of family support and protection in child protection intervention by social workers.
  • The health problems of adults who have survived child sexual abuse.
  • The contribution of social workers in carrying out effective interventions for survivors of child sexual abuse.
  • Factors that contribute to adopted children seeking out their biological parents.
  • The impact of domestic violence on children and the resulting consequences for a social worker.
  • Review the educational achievements with respect to childcare in your region.
  • Review of literature of education and childcare in California and what the world can learn from it.
  • The effect of gambling on the lives of children.
  • The common factors that affect the socio-economic requirements of children.
  • How can social workers aid the emotional growth of children?
  • The impact of pornography in increasing the rate of crime and violence against chidlren.
  • The views of sexual abuse victims on pedophilia.
  • How do the physical changes during puberty affect the psyche of a child?
  • The risks associated with child welfare decisions.
  • How can education prevent violence against children?
  • An analysis of the maternal experiences of victims of child sexual abuse.
  • The experience of new social workers in child welfare.
  • Secondary traumatic stress between young counselors and children.
  • The best ways to protect a child in custody.
  • Support strategies to prevent child poverty in your country.
  • A study of resilience in individuals when building a strong future after emerging from a difficult childhood. Provide examples.
  • Immigrant families and adolescent development.
  • Is gender neutral upbringing overrated or is it the need of the hour?
  • How does the environment in the school impact the self esteem of children?
  • A case study to review the challenges of children with learning disabilities.
  • The benefits of studying child development in improving the contributions of social services.
  • The reason for the ignorance of child development for several years in history.
  • Write a detailed paper on the formation of ego with respect to different stages of development.
  • The effect of an absent parent on the developing years of a child.
  • How does domestic violence affect the concept of self in a child?
  • Child education and the impact of single parenting.
  • Factors that contribute to the retention of employees in childcare.
  • The causes and best strategies for the protection of runaway children.
  • The role of gender differences in shaping the outlook of children.
  • Why is play an important educational tool?
  • The best policies to promote the rights of children.
  • Factors that influence the quality of food in child care centers.
  • The risk factors and effects of bullying.
  • The best ways to reduce behavioral issues in children in foster care.
  • The relationship between disability and the chances of a child ending up in foster care.
  • The lack of child support and the effects on child care.
  • How does group therapy help children in foster care?
  • The impact of constant changes of family in orphaned toddlers.
  • How does homelessness impact the psyche of a child?
  • Recurring displacement and the effects on homeless children.
  • Factors that contribute to an antisocial lifestyle in children in foster care.
  • The effects of substance abuse on the lives of children.
  • The trauma of child-parent separation on the lifestyle and health of children.

Social Work Dissertation Topics Mental Health

Mental health contributes to some of the most important dissertation topics for social work students.

  • Why do individuals with obsessive compulsive disorders struggle to cope with society?
  • The effects of living with bipolar parents on the health and lifestyle of a child.
  • Why should we socially interrogate the stigma associated with mental health?
  • The role of social workers in improving support for individuals with mental health issues.
  • The occurrence of suicidal tendencies in military units and the best ways to address them.
  • The impact of death on the collective well-being of any family unit.
  • The positive impact of sponsors on the lives of recovering addicts.
  • Provide a clinical study on the current anti-depressants and their effectiveness.
  • How to stop social elimination of children suffering from Down Syndrome.
  • The role of a family in exacerbating depression.
  • The impact of alcoholism on personal lifestyle, family and society.
  • Provide a detailed analysis of the similarities and differences between ADHD and Dyslexia.
  • The best ways to improve awareness on degenerative mental health issues like Dementia.
  • The need for more awareness among educators about learning disabilities.
  • The most effective learning tools for children who suffer from ADHD, dyslexia and other learning disorders.
  • A detailed evaluation of socio-sexual education programs for individuals with developmental disorders.
  • Evaluation on the impact of developmental disabilities in the life events of an individual.
  • Life with a spouse who has memory loss.
  • Provide an exploratory study of different aids available to the primary caregivers of children with autism.
  • The meaning of well-being based on the cultural and ethic backgrounds of individuals.
  • Building resilience towards traumatic incidents using the mind-body connection of yoga.
  • Is the stigma against mental health disorders greater for women? Conduct a comparative study.
  • The perspectives of a woman living with mental illness and receiving assistance from community services.
  • Investigate how smoking gives individuals with depression a sense of belonging or acceptance.
  • Are mental health services equally accessible to minorities and other oppressed groups?
  • Do mental health service providers avoid detention of young males in their psychiatric units?
  • The relationship between government policies and effective mental health assistance.
  • Common behavioral issues of children in dysfunctional families.
  • The impact of foster care on the mental health of teenagers.
  • The effect of poverty and scarcity on the psyche of young children.

Social Work Masters Dissertation Topics

If you are writing a dissertation paper for your master’s degree, here are some interesting topics for you to choose from:

  • How is the lifestyle of a metropolitan city failed by the criminal justice system?
  • What are some sure shot signs of trauma in the workplace?
  • The effects of racial disparity on our society.
  • The best ways to control substance abuse and addiction.
  • How can the facilities at nursing homes for the elderly be improved?
  • The negative impact of food banks.
  • Government policies that have improved welfare conditions.
  • The impact of homophobia on our community.
  • Primary factors contributing to violence in a family.
  • The effects of unemployment on society.
  • Stigma and social issues faced by welfare mothers.
  • Experiences of women who live in shelter homes.
  • The inherent challenges of transracial adoption.
  • How to make wellness therapy more sustainable?
  • The impact of first-time menstrual experience on teenage girls living in foster homes.

Common Dissertation Topics For Social Work Students

If you wish to get top grades, here are some topics that give you a lot of literature and data to review.

  • Birth control laws and their negative impact.
  • The challenges of increasing housing costs on the youth.
  • Workplace abuse and the relationship with paid labor.
  • The impact of cultural belief on relationships.
  • The negative impact of teenage pregnancy.
  • Low income neighborhoods and the increasing cases of substance abuse.
  • The hazards of confinement and why they need our attention.
  • The need for therapy of poorly represented groups.
  • Misdiagnosis of mental health issues and its impact.
  • How can empathy improve social services?
  • The need for qualitative examination of foster homes.
  • The contributing factors for violence in correctional systems.
  • Do therapists need therapy?
  • How trafficking impacts societal well-being.
  • The reasons for unreported abuse cases.
  • The hidden trauma of survivors of natural calamities.
  • Traumatic experiences of children in foster homes. A clinical study with measures to prevent them.
  • Growing in a war zone and the psychological impact.
  • Common myths about child services and foster care.
  • Is there a disability disparity among social workers?

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Home » Blog » Dissertation » Topics » Social Work » Social Work Dissertation Topics (25 Examples) For Research

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Social Work Dissertation Topics (25 Examples) For Research

Mark Jun 20, 2020 Jun 18, 2020 Social Work No Comments

If you are planning to make a career in the field of social work, you need to take a cognitive approach to improve the lives of many people. Your social work dissertation would be an important part of your degree program. You need to choose the right social work dissertation topics considering your area of […]

social work dissertation topics

If you are planning to make a career in the field of social work, you need to take a cognitive approach to improve the lives of many people. Your social work dissertation would be an important part of your degree program. You need to choose the right social work dissertation topics considering your area of interest.

We offer a list of social work dissertation topics providing suggestions on research topics on social work and project topic on social work. So, if you are stuck in choosing social work dissertation topics and project topics on social work, you can take our help. We not only help in topic selection but also offer writing services.

List of Social work dissertation topics

The role of social workers in the evolution of children raised in violent families.

Studying the impact of social work on the mental health of visually impaired people.

The importance of social work for domestic violence in slum areas.

The role of social workers in rescuing procedures of earthquake victims.

The risks involved in the areas of an epidemic for social work professionals.

Evaluating the legal rights of families of social workers working in susceptible areas – case of the UK.

Investigating the role of social work in the mainstream development of low-income groups.

The significant problems associated with dealing with children related to the victims of kidnapping.

How social workers can help in bringing positive changes and developments in society?

How social workers highlight the problems of society and contribute to developing solutions to reduce problems?

Impact of technology on mass communication and how it reaches the public.

What are the main reasons behind homelessness in the UK?

Are there any connections between race and the occurrence of child abuse in families?

Exploring the relationship between social work and social problems studying systems theory and constructionism.

The relationship between sociology, social work, and social problems.

Analysing the knowledge of social conditions and social problems.

How social work is contributing to solving social problems in underdeveloped countries?

The strategies that can be used by social workers to volunteer for helping elderly people?

Helping stray animals can help in creating a better place to live in – A qualitative analysis.

A literature review on how social work has a positive impact on society and communities.

Can social workers convince people to act responsibly and ethically?

Exploring the future of the newspaper based on qualitative analysis.

Values, dilemmas and political controversies faced by the professional social workers.

Analysing the societal challenges that affect the role of social workers.

Critique the social work profession’s response to social problems.

Discussing the cases of how the donations are used unethically and inappropriately.

Importance of a journalist’s integrity while reporting.

The importance of transparency and accountability in the field of social work.

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Phd program, dissertation abstracts, the benefits of trauma-informed social and emotional learning curricula among court-involved students living in congregate settings  , henry joel crumé 2022 .

This three-paper dissertation examined the use of a trauma-informed social and emotional learning (TI-SEL) curriculum among court-involved students attending a specialized public charter school co-located with a residential treatment center. The dissertation study used secondary qualitative and quantitative data gathered through a school-led community-based participatory research (CBPR) evaluation study. The three papers examined how the public charter school’s TI-SEL curriculum impacted school engagement among the school’s students and explored different critical aspects related to meeting the educational needs of the court-involved young people. The first paper, Chapter Two of this dissertation, is a qualitative analysis of focus group data collected with school staff members that examined how faculty viewed the strengths and challenges of using a TI-SEL curriculum to promote educational resilience among court-involved youth with complex trauma histories. The second paper, Chapter Three of this dissertation, is a quantitative analysis that focused on the importance of social and emotional learning competencies for school engagement. The third paper, Chapter Four of this dissertation, is a qualitative analysis that explored how students perceived their school engagement while living in an institutional setting. Together, these three papers analyzed the ways teachers, service providers, and students understood and benefited from a trauma-informed social and emotional learning skills curriculum. Chapter Five discusses implied related topics, the dissertation’s implications for social work practice, and proposes further research. This dissertation underscores strategies for facilitating school engagement, educational normalcy, and resilience for court-involved young people living in congregate care settings. 

Uncertain Destinations: Characterizing the Role of Place in the Later-Life Experiences of Palliative Care Patients Experiencing Homelessness

Ian m. johnson  2022 .

Purpose: Homelessness is a pervasive social injustice that stems from the sociopolitical construction of disposable human life. The shifting age demographics of those experiencing homelessness in the United States exposes the shortcomings and barriers within homelessness response services and safety-net healthcare to address serious illness, disability, and age-related needs. Through a partnership with the only specialty palliative care program for people experiencing homelessness in the United States, the Research, Action & Supportive Care at Later-life for Unhoused Peoples (RASCAL-UP) study aimed to (1) identify barriers to care across a spectrum of services for unhoused people facing serious illness; and (2) examine residential trajectories of unhoused patients over the course of palliative care treatment. Methods: A constructivist grounded theory approach was taken. Retrospective chart review of palliative care patients (n=75) was paired with semi-structured interviews with service providers across healthcare and homeless response systems (n=30), as well as observation of palliative care meetings (n=12). Findings: An exploratory analysis of patient charts led to the identification of a 4-category qualitative typology of residential trajectories during palliative care enrollment.  The Aging & Dying in Place typology showed sustained continuity of care within supportive housing. Providers described permanent supportive housing and low-barrier temporary accommodations as optimal lodging for people experiencing both homelessness and serious illness, due to the relative privacy, autonomy, and peer and community support they offer. Some of these locations, such as Tiny Villages, offer modularity, allowing for personalized adaptations. However, increasing system strains promote burnout among staff and limit supply. There are accessibility barriers in supportive housing, emergency shelters, Single Room Occupancy sites, and hotels and challenges in partnership with health and caregiving services. The Frequent Transitions typology was developed for patients who were unable to establish continuity of care during their palliative care enrollment, moving between locations on the housing care continuum, healthcare institutions, jail, and street-based settings.  In these cases, health and housing systems were not able to adequately patch together care. The third typology, Healthcare Institutions as Housing, identified a set of patient experiences characterized by long-term hospitalizations and skilled nursing utilization. Health services within homeless systems, like medical respite, were designed to assist with acute and temporary issues and faced limitations in serving people with aging-related health issues or chronic serious illness. Medical providers noted that access and admission to long-term care services were influenced by system strain and capacity, financial disincentives for taking dual-eligible (i.e., Medicare and Medicaid qualified) patients, perception and stigma of unhoused populations, and limited knowledge of harm reduction, serious mental illness, and trauma. Providers noted the pervasive ideology of punishment as a form of health motivation, and how health policy and practice is not low-barrier. The fourth typology, Housing as Palliation, illustrated a pathway in which patients secured housing later in their illness trajectory, suggesting their prognoses and symptoms activated a system of support for older, disabled, and/or seriously-ill people that isn’t available until one is deemed most-vulnerable. Discussion: This study offers an initial framework for understanding how current systems of care fall short for people facing simultaneous homelessness and serious illness, and opportunities to address housing and health service gaps. Potential advances in closing the gap between health and housing services include incentivized interdisciplinary, cross-system education, training, and consultation that focuses on both homelessness and palliative care, as well as mobile health and low-barrier housing interventions that attend to chronic and high medical acuity. Researchers can contribute implementation science tools to measure and translate the innovative aging and health programming and services emerging in the spaces where housing care continuum, healthcare, government aging and disability services, and community mutual aid intersect. 

Exploring the Ambivalent Relationship Between Social Media and Youth Sociopolitical Development: A YPAR Project with Youth Organizers

Angela malorni  2022 .

Sociopolitical development (SPD) is an emerging set of theories for the process by which youth develop knowledge, skills, and capacity for critical social and political action. Adolescence is an important time for SPD; and it is a powerful protective and promotive factor for marginalized young peoples’ social, emotional, academic, and political well-being. SPD can also lead to stronger social movements that interrupt oppressive systems/practices that are embedded into U.S. institutions (e.g., education, housing, political systems, healthcare, etc.). Over the past two decades, social media has come to play an essential role in youth social, emotional, and political development. It has also played a vital role in numerous youth-led social movements over the past decade, such as #BLM, March for Our Lives, and the global youth climate strikes. Despite social media being an essential part of multiple domains of youth development and political participation, it is often neglected in the study of youth SPD. What we do know about the relationship (which has mostly been explored with young adults) is really ambivalent and has signaled a complex relationship with critical consciousness and the health of social movements. 

Our understanding of youth and technology shapes how adults relate to youth across education and practice settings. This includes how families, service providers, and educators incorporate technology into their work and the policies that can contain and restrict youth behavior or technology use. Additionally, in previous local YPAR projects, youth organizers communicated the need for a better understanding of how to create healthier relationships to social media and how to strategically use social media for their organizing work.  

Social media is an increasingly central space for young people to develop their sociopolitical identities and engage in sociopolitical action. With a better understanding of social media’s relationship to youth SPD, we can better integrate social media as a protective and promotive tool in various youth learning and practice contexts while also working to mitigate the adverse effects of social media on youth SPD. This dissertation outlines a  participatory action research (YPAR) project to explore the relationship between social media and youth sociopolitical development. The overarching research questions are: (1) In what ways does social media facilitate youth sociopolitical development, and (2) in what ways does social media limit, or even act counterproductive to, youth sociopolitical development? I applied case study and virtual photovoice research methodologies to address these questions. All analysis was done collaboratively amongst the YPAR collective. 

This dissertation highlights three important products of this work. First, it shares the results of the YPAR collective’s theoretical and conceptual work. We critically examined normative assumptions of what youth SPD is and collaboratively constructed a definition that is rooted in youth organizers’ lived experience and folk theory. The collective’s work is largely compatible with current models of youth SPD but offers additional insight into key social and emotional elements, and further operationalizes key elements in a way that race, power, privilege, and oppression are centered. The young co-researchers' conceptual definition served as an anchor for our study and makes an important contribution to the field of youth SPD. 

Then, the YPAR collective addresses the overarching dissertation research questions using the virtual photovoice data. The guiding research questions were: (1) In what ways does social media facilitate youth sociopolitical development, and (2) in what ways does social media limit, or even act counterproductive to, youth sociopolitical development? Using activity theory as an analytical framework, we identified a total of nine important contradictions, conflicts and tensions in the relationship between social media and youth SPD. They identified ways that they, and other young people, work through those issues, and assessed the impact of their actions on youth SPD.  

This dissertation outlines the findings for two of these issues. These were highlighted as most prevalent and relevant to how they saw social media interacting with youth SPD. First, the collective explores some of the ways that social media facilitates SPD by increasing accessibility of critical learning, communities, and opportunities for critical action. However, youth researchers note that while social media increases accessibility, social media also amplifies gatekeeping and unhealthy boundary setting in ways that are detrimental to youth SPD.  Then, the youth researchers note specific ways that social media facilitates a deepening of critical awareness and analysis, but that social media also contributes to oversimplification, reduction of complex ideas and identities, and echo chambers. 

I close by discussing the implications these insights hold for social media policy, digital literacy interventions, and community organizing. I also identify future directions for research, including an exploration of the other seven themes, and additional cross-case comparisons that may provide insight into other questions around social media and healthy youth development. The collective also reflects on how the YPAR project has transformed their critical consciousness development, organizing strategy, and social media use.  Planning for translating our findings into action was also discussed.  

Minimum Wage Increases and Child Support Payments: A Secondhand Anti-Poverty Regime 

Anita louise rocha  2022 .

Background and Purpose: By 2010 in the United States, approximately 11.3 million cases owed over $110 billion in back child support. The accumulated debt from unpaid child support may be due, at least in part, to non-custodial parents’ inability to afford it. The setting of order amounts relies on a set of assumptions which may not reflect the reality of low-earnings, non-custodial parents, like uncertainty in wages and intermittent workforce participation. Even attempts to improve economic conditions for the lowest-wage workers, like a local minimum wage increase, may have uncertain effects on non-custodial parents’ earningss and thereby, their ability to pay child support. Could a local minimum wage increase be followed by an alteration in the number of hours worked, earnings, and the amount of child support paid by low-earnings, non-custodial parents? Analyzing data from a cohort of low-earnings, non-custodial parents (NCPs) from 2010 through 2016, both those working in jurisdictions with local minimum wage increases (Seattle, Tacoma, SeaTac) and those working in other areas of Washington state, findings from this study could inform policies that support families which depend on financial support from a non-resident parent. 

Methods: With Washington State administrative data from 2010 to 2016, I examine over 70,000 low-wage, non-custodial parents, all of whom have active child support orders around the time of an increase in local minimum wages. As a longitudinal cohort study, I use a difference-in-difference approach to compare parents who worked in jurisdictions subject to local minimum wage increases to those who did not. Using interrupted time-series models with propensity score weighting, I examine outcomes involving hours worked, earnings, and child support payments before and after an increase in a local minimum wage. 

Results: Relative to NCPs not exposed to a local minimum wage increase and after the implementation of Seattle's minimum wage ordinance, exposed NCPs saw a 5% decline in the chance of having any job in a quarter. They also saw a 14-hour reduction in the expected mean number of hours worked per quarter. a drop averaging about 1 hour per week. Even with a small increase in expected mean hourly earnings of $0.05 per hour, NCPs saw a decrease in expected mean earnings of $260 per quarter, about $20 per week. Finally, there was a change in predicted percent of child support paid after a minimum wage increase, depending on NCPs’ earnings level. Those earning less than $2,700 showed as much as a 1 percent increase in child support paid, while those at higher earnings levels had up to a 1 percent decrease. 

Conclusions and Implications: While many factors influence consistent and full child support payments, results in this study suggest that a local minimum wage increases can lead to a decrease in hours worked, earnings, and child support payments among non-custodial parents, at least in the short-term. A decline in child support payments was only evident among those with higher earnings, and the change was small, approaching 1 percent of the order amount.  Rather than statistical significance, my conclusions, therefore, rest on questions of practical significance. Will the magnitudes of these shifts change in any real way resources available to children whose families are dependent on child support payments? This prompts a discussion of what constitutes substantive material support for children. 

Understanding the Service Needs of Gang-Involved Youth: Social Identity and Ecological Influences on Health Decision-Making 

Asia sarah bishop  2021 .

Gang-involved youth experience multiple forms of marginalization and are members of communities experiencing significant health disparities (e.g., youth of color, poor). Yet, research and policy narratives routinely center delinquency, violence, and legal system intervention with limited attention to health and well-being. To develop relevant and responsive service approaches to address needs and reduce disparities, research is needed to examine how and why health varies within the youth gang population. Broadly informed by social ecological, social determinants of health, and health lifestyle frameworks, this dissertation used multiple methodologies to examine health experiences among gang-involved youth. Methods: Paper 1 was a scoping review of 65 studies to understand how researchers are currently approaching the gang-health link. A thematic analysis was undertaken to explore how and why health variation might emerge within the gang context. Papers 2 and 3 utilized latent class analysis to test for unobserved health decision-making profiles among a statewide, school-based sample of self-identified youth gang members. Quantitative analyses also examined how emerging health profiles differentiated according to youths’ social identities and living contexts. Results: The review illuminated key gaps in our current understanding of the influence of gangs and gang membership on adolescent health. Authors of the reviewed studies theorized that gangs represent social-cultural contexts where norms and values shape health behavior, and that these norms and behaviors may often be gendered in nature. Despite this theorizing, few studies operationalized gang context measures beyond individual membership. Additionally, authors frequently took an ecological approach in their theorizing, citing neighborhood and family influences as important for youth gang members’ health. Yet, the potential mediating role of gang membership in the environment-health link was neglected in analyses, and few studies examined how ecological factors help explain health variation within gangs. The quantitative analyses of this dissertation tested for, and found, distinct profiles of sexual and physical health decision-making. For both sexual and physical health, a pattern emerged whereby youth of color and those identifying as LGBQ were disproportionately represented in profiles characterized by fewer health promoting behaviors and greater environmental adversities (e.g., poverty, housing instability, limited health care access, violence exposure). Gender varied, with males represented in riskier sex profiles and females in poorer physical health profiles. Discussion: Findings suggest that health disparities exist among gang-involved youth, and that these disparities may be attributable to youths’ ecological contexts. Findings have several implications for research and practice. First, gang-involved youth are a heterogeneous group with respect to health, and flexible service approaches are needed. Second, heterosexuality within youth gangs is not universal and those who identify otherwise may be at heightened vulnerability for adverse health, highlighting the need for intersectional approaches to research and practice. Third, the structural and environmental drivers of gang membership (e.g., racism, poverty, neighborhood violence) are also undermining health for these youth, indicating the need for an intentional research and policy focus on macro- and meso-level factors. Conclusion: Youth gang membership in the U.S. is highly racialized, and emerging research suggests that youth gangs are gendered and heteronormative. Failing to attend to the health challenges of, and within, this population represents a complex, yet pressing social justice issue. Addressing health disparities for gang-involved youth will require research and practice frameworks with a multilevel focus on healthy development, issues of intersectionality, and the structural and environmental drivers of adverse health.  

It Does Matter for Us, Too: Implications of Digital Divide Among Older Americans 

Youngjun choi   2021 .

In the U.S., older adults have long overrepresented a digitally marginalized group who did not fully benefit from the digital lifestyle. Despite the rapid adoption of digital technology, the digital divide among older adults is still critical. About four out of ten older Americans, aged 65 or older do not have Internet access in 2021. 

Nevertheless, relatively little public attention has been paid to the digital divide among older adults and its impacts since they were not the primary consumers in economic growth driven by digital technologies. This dissertation project aimed to expand knowledge in the determinants of older adults' engagement in digital lifestyle and the impacts of the digital divide on their wellbeing through a series of three cohesive research papers, analyzing data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). 

The first part of the dissertation explored the digital divide among older Americans, seeking a better understanding of the role of stereotypes on older adults assimilated from surrounding cultures. Drawing on resources and appropriation theory and stereotype embodiment theory, paper one investigated the relationship between older adults' self-perception of aging and regular Internet use. The results from logistic regression show that the higher level of the negative self-perception of aging was positively associated with no regular internet use. The results were in line with another critical argument from the resources and appropriation theory, indicating socioeconomically marginalized groups with limited resources were less likely to use the Internet. 

Based on the implications from paper one, the study expanded its scope to the impacts of the digital divide on older adults' health and wellbeing. The second paper examined the association between older adults' regular Internet use and the likelihood of new-onset mild cognitive impairment (MCI), employing survival analysis techniques with longitudinal data from the HRS study waves from 2002 to 2016. Following the core arguments from the cognitive enrichment framework, the paper posited regular Internet use as a mentally stimulating activity that might help maintain or stimulate older adults' cognitive function. The study found that older adults who regularly used the Internet during the prior study year showed a lower likelihood of new-onset MCI than non-Internet users. 

The last part of the current study investigated the relationship between digital technology as a social communication tool and older adults' subjective wellbeing. Specifically, paper three examined the association between older adults' social network services (SNS, i.e., Facebook, Skype, and Twitter) and perceived loneliness mediated by perceived social support and dispositional optimism. The study found that a more frequent SNS use might be associated with a lower level of loneliness, mediated by perceived social support. In addition, older adults with a higher level of dispositional optimism, indicating those who were optimistic toward their life, were more likely to frequently use SNS and perceive a higher level of social support from the SNS use than those who were pessimistic. 

In brief, the current study found that the digital divide among older Americans was significant, while engagement in digital lifestyle might positively affect the population group's health psychological wellbeing. In addition, this study found that older adults' engagement in digital lifestyle might be affected by various psychological factors, indicating older adults might have a different level of willingness or reluctance to adopt digital technology based on their experiences over life. 

Based on the findings, the current study provides policy and practice suggestions and future research to close the digital gap among older Americans. First, Digital technology training for older adults should be supported by policy and law. Second, Programs to support Internet connectivity of low-income groups, such as Emergency Broadband Benefits, a temporary program to mitigate economic hardship due to COVID-19, should be extended and further expanded to more population groups. Third, policymakers and practitioners need to understand psychological traits and attitudes toward digital technology shared by the older adult population groups to implement better the policy options mentioned above. Future research needs to investigate further psychological factors associated with older adults' reluctance or willingness to engage in digital lifestyle and causal relationships between digital technology uses and various health or psychological outcomes. 

The Availability and Generosity of Medicaid Home & Community Based Services for Economically Vulnerable Older Adults:  State Differences and Their Relationship to End of Life Outcomes 

Hazal erçin  2021 .

Most older adults express a wish to age and die in their homes, yet without a support system at home that could provide comfort and security, this can be impossible due to high needs for assistance with self-care and mobility activities, high symptom burden and low functioning at the end of life. The care needs of economically vulnerable community dwelling older adults can be addressed via Medicaid 1915(c) waivers that provide home and community–based services (HCBS). Medicaid 1915(c) waivers reach the most economically vulnerable older adults - who are commonly known as Medicare/Medicaid dual eligible older adults – and provide services that can help with symptoms, with housework, with daily activities, with caregiver support and with home safety. There is no federal policy regulating Medicaid waiver programs and 1915(c) waivers are offered at the discretion of the states. As a result, states dramatically vary in their availability and generosity, which may create disparities in the end of life experiences among dual eligible older adults based on the state they live and die in. Aims: This dissertation aimed to investigate the state variation in Medicaid 1915(c) waiver availability and generosity to provide HCBS to dual eligible older adults, and to explore the association between state variation in availability and generosity of Medicaid waivers and end of life experiences of this sample, such as unmet needs with self-care and mobility activities and quality of end of life. Methods: To answer the first aim of this dissertation, a policy analysis was conducted to explore availability and generosity of 1915(c) waivers utilizing three datasets, namely waiver application documents located at, the Medicaid Analytic Extract - Other Services (MAX-OT) dataset, and Genworth State Cost of Care Survey 2013. For the second aim, the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) (Wave 2-7, 2012-2017 was utilized. Drawing on unmet need and quality of end of life measures from NHATS, variation of the outcome variables was examined by socioeconomic characteristics, severity of illness and impairment factors, end of life indicators and waiver availability and generosity variables. Results: This dissertation found that there is a variation between the states in available services, coverage for target groups, service slots available, ability to direct participants’ own care and generosity. The second part of the dissertation examined the end of life experiences of dual eligible older adults and found that 40.26% of the sample had any unmet needs with self-care and mobility activities and 56.07% had a low quality of end of life. Unmet need for assistance was found to be associated with dementia, not having participant direction option, lower numbers of waivers available and less generosity for homemaker and adult day services. Low quality of end of life was associated with living alone, higher numbers of chronic diseases, receiving hospice, nursing facility placement during the last month of life and less numbers of available slots for the 1915(c) waivers. Discussion: This dissertation showed that community dwelling dual eligible older adults nearing the end of life experience unmet needs with self-care and mobility activities and low quality of end of life, such as high symptom burden and lower functioning. The findings indicated that 1915(c) waivers should provide participant direction more often and tailor their services for older adults with dementia due to their higher risk for unmet needs. Generosity for the services and slots available for dual eligible older adults were also associated with end of life experiences of this sample, therefore Medicaid waivers should increase their generosity and slots to better meet the needs of economically vulnerable older adults at the end of life.  

Statutory Inclusion: An Evaluation of Mental Health Among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Military Personnel Following the Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” 

Thomas o. walton  2021 .

Lesbian, gay, and bisexual men and women have served in the U.S. military since this nation’s founding despite the many forms of marginalization denying their existence. Formal sanctions have ranged from imprisonment to dishonorable discharge while the hetero-masculine mandate of military culture has consistently targeted and maligned homosexual behavior and identity.  The minority stress perspective explains how these multiple layers of discrimination are likely to harm the mental health of lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members (LGB SMs). The 1993 law, commonly known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” was meant to lessen the deleterious effects of anti-gay sentiment in the military. Unfortunately, it did the opposite, increasing tensions and incidence of harassment. The law also prevented the military from collecting data on LGB SMs. Until 2011, when the law was repealed and LGB SMs gained the statutory right to serve, it was not possible to study the well-being of this long-silenced population that is likely to be at high risk of adverse mental health outcomes. However, few studies have yet to explore the needs and experiences of LGB SMs.

This three-paper dissertation is one of the first studies using a large representative sample of the active-duty force to investigate mental health, social support, and barriers to treatment among LGB SMs.    

METHODS: A secondary analysis is conducted using data from the 2015 Department of Defense Health Related Behaviors Survey – the first wave of this longitudinal study to collect data on sexual identity. The first two studies of this dissertation use the full sample of 14,405 active duty personnel who completed the survey item on sexuality, of which 863 (6.0%) self-identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual. In the first study, a series of logistic regressions describe the prevalence of adverse mental health outcomes, exposures to physical and sexual abuse, and suicidality among subgroups based on gender and sexual orientation. The second paper uses a structural equation model to assess the indirect effects of LGB identity on mental health as mediated by social support. The final paper takes a subsample of only those respondents who were identified as having an unmet need for mental health treatment (n = 1,237; LGB n = 95, 7.7%) and compares barriers to treatment experienced by LGB SMs to those of their straight peers.  

RESULTS: The first paper revealed that bisexual men and women serving in the military have significantly greater prevalence of adverse mental health outcomes compared to their same-sex straight peers, with disparities most notable among bisexual women. Lesbian women did not significantly differ from straight women on measures of mental health or trauma exposures while on active duty, while gay male service members were found to have significantly lower prevalence of some mental health measures compared to straight males despite being significantly more likely to experience unwanted sexual contact. Results of the second paper are consistent with other studies showing the importance of social support as a mental health buffer. Lesbian identity did not affect social support, however gay male identity did have a moderate negative impact on social support with indirect effects on adverse mental health. The final paper found prevalence of concern about confidentiality and mental health treatment harming one’s career to be greater barriers to care among LGB SMs compared to their straight peers, yet prevalence of stigma-related concerns were significantly lower among LGB SMs.   

CONCLUSION: Together, these studies are a first step toward what should be a growing body of literature on the health, well-being, and welfare of LGB SMs. The most immediate implications are to support those found to be in greatest distress – bisexual female service members. Military clinicians should discuss LGB identity and adjust treatments accordingly, while military health leaders should develop campaigns to clarify and reaffirm the right to confidential treatment. Additional interventive implications and the possibility that changing cultural norms may be benefitting gay male service members are discussed.  LGB SMs will benefit from ongoing attention from both military and civilian investigators who will also need access to data on transgender and nonbinary service members if the military’s mission of inclusion is to be achieved. 

Between International Policy and Local Practice: Negotiating Meaning and Strategies to  Address Domestic Violence in Nepal 

Claire c. willey  2021 .

In recent decades, domestic violence (DV) has gained traction as an international concern. The Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA) outlined steps that governments should take to live up to commitments expressed in the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and, largely in response to national women's movements, laws against DV have been passed in 144 countries. However, in low-income countries such as Nepal, policymakers and donors concentrated in wealthier (often Western) countries have disproportionate influence on DV policy and practice, both through international treaties and policies, and through donor funding priorities. Nepali activists and service providers working both within and outside of government run organizations play a crucial role in the translation of international and national policies into local practice. Yet, in this context, two enduring questions are the degree to which international policies reflect and respond to local knowledge and experiences, and how knowledges grounded in local practice can meaningfully inform international DV policy. This dissertation explores these questions across three papers: one theoretical and two empirical papers. The empirical papers are based on fieldwork conducted with DV service providers in Pokhara, Nepal across two summers (2015, 2018). It is informed by my situatedness as a white American daughter writing from a U.S.-based research institution and a Nepal buhari (daughter-in-law) with experiences living and working in Nepal. 

Given the complex structures of power that shape—and are reproduced through—colonial knowledge production practices, the first paper outlines major contributions of postcolonial theory for epistemic justice in international social work research. This paper suggests three research strategies that extend from postcolonial theoretical insights: reflexivity, critical discourse analysis, and postcolonial translation. Subsequent papers apply these strategies to the analysis of Nepali-language interviews and focus groups with DV service providers in Pokhara, Nepal. Paper two employed critical discourse analysis to compare service providers' constructions of DV with those forwarded in major international policy documents (BPfA & CEDAW). The analysis revealed that service providers constructed DV both through an analysis of systemic oppression and through recognition of the centrality of family for individuals' economic and social well-being, as well as for their legal standing as rights-holders in Nepal. Given these findings, the third paper explored community strategies that have been employed to address DV. This analysis revealed that service providers understood these strategies broadly, to include strategies used by women and marginalized groups to shore up their own resources, strategies used to promote gender and other forms of equity in the wider society, and strategies used to engage and/or confront those using DV. The results of this dissertation not only elucidate contextually and culturally responsive DV practice in Nepal, but also challenge dominant international assumptions about what it means to address DV. 

Developing and Validating a Behavioral Framework for Dementia Care Partners' Fall Risk Management 

Yuanjin zhou  2021 .

Older adults living with dementia (OLWD) experience nearly two to ten times higher fall risk than older adults without dementia. Despite this, evidence is limited concerning effective fall management strategies for them. Care partners (broadly defined as relatives, partners, and friends) play a critical role in managing the fall risk for community-dwelling OLWD. However, it is unclear what behaviors dementia care partners adopt are relevant to fall risk management (FRM) and how these behaviors are associated with fall-related outcomes for OLWD. This dissertation utilizes an exploratory sequential mixed method study design to develop and validate a behavioral framework for dementia care partners' FRM. 

This first paper proposes a behavioral framework for dementia care partners’ FRM using a grounded theory approach and semi-structured, in-depth interviews with 14 care partners of community-dwelling OLWD. This paper makes a distinctive contribution by identifying eight domains of dementia care partners’ FRM behaviors (1. functional mobility assistance, 2. assessing and addressing health conditions, 3.  health promotions support, 4. safety supervision, 5. physical environment modification, 6. receiving, seeking, and coordinating care, 7. learning, and 8. self-adjustment) across four stages of FRM (1. providing support before dementia diagnosis, 2. preventing falls, 3. preparing to respond to falls, and 4. responding to falls).   

The second paper validates this behavioral framework by using two linked national surveys, the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) 2015 and the National Study of Caregiving (NSOC) 2015, to examine the prevalence and dimensionality of care partners’ FRM and to compare the differences between primary and secondary care partners. The exploratory factor analysis (EFA) approach under the item response theory paradigm is utilized to examine the dimensionality of FRM behaviors. EFA results illustrate the complexity of two domains of FRM behaviors that emerge from the first paper: receiving, seeking, and coordinating care, and assessing and addressing health conditions. These discrepancies illustrate the need to explore different mechanisms, facilitators, and barriers for care partners navigating multiple care systems and service providers and addressing different types of health conditions for managing OLWD’s fall risk. Furthermore, this study identifies similarities and differences between primary and secondary care partners that may inform the development of different strategies to engage care partners based on their caring roles. 

Informed by this validated framework, the third paper focuses on assessing fall risk reduction for community-dwelling OLWD associated with receipt of FRM support from their care partners utilizing longitudinal data NHATS 2015-2016 and the linked care partner data NSOC 2015. Study findings from this paper highlight the importance of care partners’ medication management, wound care, learning behaviors, accessing formal social care, and physical environment modifications in potentially reducing the risk of falling for community-dwelling OLWD. The study also found that certain FRM behaviors, including functional mobility assistance, health promotion support, and medication management might be associated with a higher risk of falling for OLWD. 

Overall, the findings from this dissertation yield contribution to both practice and health and social behavior science inquiries. The dissertation addresses the need for a behavioral framework to understand care partners’ FRM and assess the contributions and limitations of care partners’ efforts. Future interventions can be developed by applying this framework to engage dementia care partners. 

Dissertation: “You Don’t Look Anorexic:” A Mixed Methods Study of Weight Stigma and Healthcare Experiences in a Diverse Sample of Patients with Atypical Anorexia 

Erin nicole harrop  2020 .

“Atypical anorexia” (AAN) is an eating disorder (ED) describing those who meet all criteria for anorexia nervosa (AN) except being underweight. By having larger bodies, AAN individuals are more likely to experience weight stigma. The present study used multiple methodologies to explore the AAN experience, focusing on how weight and weight stigma affect healthcare. Methods: Study 1 utilized a systematic review of 54 articles to determine the weight history and medical complications of AAN. Study 2 utilized in-depth semi-structured arts-based qualitative interviews with 38 AAN patients to describe their experiences of weight stigma in healthcare. Study 3 utilized stepwise multivariate regression to determine associations between weight-related variables and treatment delay. Results: The review revealed that patients with AAN experienced lower rates of amenorrhea and bone density loss compared to AN. However, life-threatening symptoms (electrolyte imbalance, bradycardia, hypothermia, orthostasis) occurred at commensurate rates, despite AAN weights being higher. Qualitative findings demonstrated that across the illness trajectory (risk development, pre-treatment, treatment, relapse prevention), patients reported that provider weight stigma contributed to initiation and persistence of ED behaviors, complicating illness trajectories. Quantitative results corroborated the impact of weight-related variables on treatment receipt and delay. Participants experienced a mean weight suppression of 28.4% (SD = 10.0) of their premorbid weight and a treatment delay of 11.6 years (SD = 11.7) from the time patients believed they had an ED until receiving treatment. In regression analysis, minimum BMI and largest percent weight loss emerged as marginally significant (p = .048, .059, respectively) predictors of treatment delay, such that lower BMI and greater percent weight loss were associated with shorter treatment delays. Discussion: These findings demonstrate that 1) AAN is a serious illness with similar medical comorbidities as AN, 2) higher weight patients were counseled to lose weight despite impairing ED cognitions and behaviors, 3) healthcare providers generally failed to recognize AAN in normal and higher weight patients, and 4) consequences of provider weight stigma included longer periods of living with undiagnosed, untreated EDs and instances of providers triggering (or re-triggering) ED behaviors, leading to increased medical risk. These findings suggest several needed steps. First, transitioning to a spectrum model for AN diagnosis (wherein weight is one severity indicator) may facilitate faster diagnosis and treatment. Second, training is needed for primary care providers to increase recognition and screening of EDs in normal and higher weight patients. Third, conversations are needed between obesity and ED professionals to ensure that universal health promotion efforts do not cause unintended harm. Addressing weight stigma in these ways could enhance treatment receipt, quality of care, and healthcare engagement for ED patients, particularly those at higher weights. 

An Examination of Novel Harm Reduction Interventions for Indigenous and Other Youth of Color 

Matt ignacio  2020 .

Alcohol and other drug (AOD) use among youth populations remains a pressing social issue in the United States. Young people who experiment with or regularly use AODs are at heightened risk for experiencing AOD-related harms such as mental health issues, overconsumption, and death. Among American Indian/Alaska Native/Indigenous (hereafter, “Indigenous”) youth, contextual risk factors such as limited access to culturally relevant AOD prevention information can exacerbate their risk for AOD harms such as early onset for problematic AOD use, AOD-use disorders in adulthood, infection of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), unresolved issues of trauma, and related experiences of inter-personal violence. An effective approach to reduce AOD-related harm among youth is harm reduction. Youth-specific harm reduction studies have shown significant effects in reducing AOD use and related harms, as well as increasing knowledge and awareness. However, there is a dearth of empirical literature on the development, acceptability, and measurement of culturally relevant, theoretically grounded harm reduction interventions for Indigenous youth. This dissertation examines three sets of interrelated questions regarding novel interventions designed to prevent and reduce AOD harms for youth of color (YOC), with a focus on the needs of Indigenous youth who participate in an Indigenous-specific after-school program. The first study reports use, usability, and overall satisfaction outcomes for the MyPEEPS (Male Youth Pursing Empowerment, Education, and Prevention around Sexuality) mobile app, an evidence-based HIV prevention intervention. A pre-post pilot feasibility study was conducted with racially and ethnically diverse 40 young men living in Birmingham, Alabama; Chicago, Illinois; New York City, New York; and Seattle, Washington. Results indicated 62.5% (25/40) of all participants completed the intervention in an average of 28.85 (SD 21.69) days. Overall, participants reported the app was easy to use and useful and had the potential to improve their sexual health knowledge, behaviors, and awareness in risky situations. The second study focused exclusively on the AOD prevention needs of Indigenous youth towards the development of a culturally relevant and theoretically grounded harm reduction intervention. A community-based participatory research approach was used to understand the perceptions of AOD use, harm reduction and culture among Indigenous youth 13-17 years of age enrolled in an Indigenous-specific after-school program. Key themes were organized with the Indigenous framework of Relationality and included: a) youth understand the negative consequences of AOD use, b) youth appreciated balanced, non-abstinence based AOD education, c) youth described a need for safe opportunities to talk about the impacts of AOD use, and d) youth described a desire to lead and help prevent AOD harms for their future selves and for those in their circle. The third study examined perceptions of Indigenous adults (18+ years of age) affiliated with the same Indigenous after-school program regarding AOD use, harm reduction, and risk factors for youth participants. Findings were organized using a risk environment framework to identify risk factors for youth on micro and macro levels across physical, social, economic, and policy domains. Last, adult-identified risk factors were paired with the previously reported youth recommendations where similar, to establish core content for a community-based, culturally relevant, and theoretically grounded harm reduction intervention for Indigenous youth, inclusive of multigenerational Indigenous perspectives. Results of these studies strongly indicate that harm reduction interventions as an acceptable approach to prevent AOD use and harm among diverse YOC. In addition, findings support culturally relevant harm reduction education as a valuable way to prevent AOD use and harm among Indigenous youth participating in an after-school program. Future research should seek to explicitly test the hypothesis that interventions designed to enhance relationality among Indigenous youth can serve to buffer risk for AOD use and harm. Finally, meeting the needs of diverse YOC requires a community-based approach. Trust and respect must be established in order to develop a mutually beneficial research partnership with representatives from diverse populations and communities. 

The Practice of Intergroup Dialogue Across Eductional Settings 

Kristin j. mccowan 2020 .

Consciousness-raising educational efforts, that help learners critically examine the sociopolitical structures that create and sustain discrimination and disadvantage (Larson, 2014) are needed. Friere (1979) suggests that the most promising approaches to educating for critical consciousness reflect three interconnected components; an in-depth understanding of the world, reflection on social and political contradictions, and taking action against oppressive elements in one's own life (Friere, 1979). Intergroup Dialogue (IGD) is one evidence-based approach that uses critical pedagogy and experiential learning to help students develop a structural analysis of how power and privilege are related to various types of inequalities (Gurin, Nagda, & Zuniga, 2013). Evidence suggests that IGD is an effective approach to reducing prejudice and increasing intergroup understanding, collaboration and action among learners (Dessel, Rogge, & Garlington, 2006; Lopez & Zuniga, 2010; Maxwell, Nagda, & Thompson, 2011; Schoem & Hurtado, 2001; Zuniga et al., 2007). While the majority of research on IGD tends to examine outcomes, less is known about how students experience and navigate the cognitive and affective processes that facilitate the aforementioned outcomes. This dissertation seeks to understand the ways in which IGD fostered critical consciousness among students. Across these three studies, IGD served as a promising approach that enabled high school and undergraduate students to increase their understanding of the world around them, to engage in critical (self) reflection, and the findings across these studies also demonstrated students’ ability to take action to incorporate their new learnings into their everyday lives. Although the experiential nature of the course proved challenging at times, the vast majority of students reported that the dialogic challenges supported their ability to apply critical dialogue skills across both contexts. Analyses also revealed that IGD was instrumental in the development of students’ listening skills. In particular analyses revealed that students' may have developed a more integrated form of listening, or conscious listening which involves the integration of multiple senses (e.g. eyes, heart, mind, ears) that promoted their ability to awareness across all three domains (context, content and intrapersonal). Analyses from the high school study, revealed that IGD supported students’ sociopolitical development. While, there is not sufficient evidence to suggest that a school-wide approach is feasible, evaluation of the pilot program was appropriate and conducive to high school students, in the third study, there More trials are needed to further develop a programming model that addresses the unique contingencies embedded in the school environment; which include, the duration of each meeting was limited to 40 minutes and inconsistent access to physical space within the school. 

Indigenous Connectedness as a Framework for Relational Healing within Alaska Native Child Welfare 

Jessica ullrich  2020 .

This study was embedded within the Alaska Native child welfare context to fill a gap in the literature that further theorized and made evident the key concepts and mechanisms of Indigenous child wellbeing.  Twenty-five foster care alumni, relative caregivers and foster parents provided their perspectives and life experience of child wellbeing within ICWA preference placements. The use of directed content analysis and Indigenous storywork helped make meaning of the knowledge bearers’ stories in comparison with an Indigenous Connectedness Framework. Results indicate that: 1) relational wounds and trauma must be acknowledged and addressed; 2) relational continuity is a crucial for wellbeing within child welfare, and 3) relational healing happens when children and adults know who they are and where they come from. This study is significant because it shifts the narrative, philosophy, values, beliefs and theory of child wellbeing within child welfare and influences how we live in right relationship with ourselves and others for the benefit of our sacred children. 

Micro, Mezzo, and Macro Levels of Implementation: An Examination of Minnesota's Cultural and Ethnic Minority Infrastructure Grant Program 

Martha aby 2019 .

Using Minnesota’s Cultural and Ethnic Minority Infrastructure Grant (CEMIG) program as a case study, this dissertation, using a multi-paper format, analyzes how race, ethnicity, and culture interact with large-scale, system-wide implementation projects at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. CEMIG funded 21 agencies over $8.83 million in workforce development efforts (e.g., assist individuals in obtaining mental health licensure) for 281 individuals, clinical and ancillary services, and EBP training for cultural and ethnic minority populations from 2008-2017. Data used for these papers was varied, including 62 online survey responses from clinical trainees, over 1000 grant documents gathered and maintained by Minnesota’s Department of Human Services (DHS), and 23 interview transcripts from 27 participants collected between summer 2017 and fall 2018. While the primary method of data analysis was qualitative content analysis, multiple regression was used to assess the relationship between challenges and supportive services among clinical trainees who participated in the CEMIG program and responded to the online survey. Micro-level findings indicate that while there was no statistically significant relationship between clinical trainees and their demographics, education debt amount, or perceived level of graduate training for the mental health licensure exam, in comparison, services and supports, specifically financial assistance with test fees, were found to be beneficial. The qualitative component of the survey found that clinical trainees experienced the exams as culturally biased and were warned that the licensure exams are challenging and required code-switching behaviors to be successful. Mezzo-level findings separated grantee agencies into four types: sovereign, legacy, transitional, and grassroots; themes generated described the differential need, based on agency typology, to create internal infrastructure, attend to hidden bias, and maintain autonomy during the grant contract process. Macro-level findings demonstrate the participants perceived that the grant program perpetuated inequities by neglecting to promote the program, advocate for clinicians of color, and coordinate isolated policy ecology systems. Findings from these studies highlight the complexities of racial and cultural identity in the implementation process. At the micro level, the need for clinical trainees to engage in codeswitching behaviors to succeed, questions the role of the licensure exam in assessing competence or cultural assimilation. At the mezzo level, findings suggest that when including non-legacy agencies, more technical assistance and funding for data reporting and contract management should be included. Further, government or private funders should engage in conversations that uncover hidden biases that affect relationships and implementation processes with sovereign, transitional, and grassroots agencies. Last, at the macro level, suggestions for process improvement included enhanced data collection, innovation cross-fertilization, and stakeholder advocacy involvement. Especially within policies engaging with disparate communities, including ethnicity-specific mental health provider advocacy groups in the stakeholder advisory board and collaborating with these advocacy groups for grant program development and data collection efforts are critical for project enhancement and sustainability. Further research is needed to describe differences in implementation based on culture and ethnicity within mental health settings, as well as examining institutional norms, such as licensing exams that clinicians of color may experience in discriminatory ways. 

On the Cusp: Pathways to Employment, Education, and Disability in First-Episode Psychosis (FEP)

Shannon blajeski 2019 .

Poverty is a persistent problem in serious mental illness (SMI) with adult unemployment rates consistently hovering around 80%. A psychiatric paradigm shift toward early intervention for first-episode psychosis (FEP) has shown promise in supporting employment and education in early stages of treatment, but with mixed outcomes. Theories implicate existing low SES and its associated structural barriers, social drift into disability following onset in early adulthood, and disability status with its accompanying label and stigma, in the maintenance of poverty for this population. Utilizing life course theory and considering that the developmental period before disability is established is a particularly critical intervention point for poverty prevention among this group, it is an urgent research priority to learn how young adults with FEP negotiate employment and/or education and how interventions can facilitate this process. This dissertation explored the ways in which employment, education, or disability trajectories form during the early stages of living with a FEP. Utilizing a standpoint epistemological lens, which seeks to highlight the position of the marginalized, 19 interviews were conducted with a critical case sample of young adults with lived experience of a FEP and early intervention programs to explore the key moments, messages, and structural influences that determined their trajectories towards employment, education, or disability. Results indicate that the initial life disruption from a FEP in young adulthood leads to a suspension of gainful activity, followed by a period of forward progress through overcoming their early experiences with hospitalization and medication regimes, and adjusting their self-concept after the label of psychosis. Mental health professionals sent different messages about disability or capability depending on treatment ideology, while families provided varying levels of support and encouragement based on their own SES and subsequent values. Finally, young adults who were successful in entering the labor market did so by moving into direct career pathways instead of looking for work in the secondary labor market, utilized university disability centers, and found support and direction through their involvement with the council. These conclusions have significant implications for early intervention programs, including targeting early-onset FEP, shifting employment focus to the primary labor market, promoting adjunctive peer-based support, and challenging the professional mental health discourse about disability. Implications for research include the need to better understand the pathways of FEP young adults who are not in education, employment, or training (NEET) and who face additional barriers to accessing employment programs and the labor market. 

“Wherever I Go, I Have It Inside of Me”: Indigenous Cultural Dance as a Transformative Place of Health and Prevention for Members of an Urban Danza Mexica Community

Angela r fernandez 2019.

Background and Purpose: In 2012 the U.S. Census Bureau used “Mexican American Indian” (MAI) as a new category to describe people with ancestry from Indigenous groups of Mexico. This census category comprises the fourth largest Indigenous population group in the United States and encompasses a vastly diverse, complex, and intersectional population, for which there is little empirical health research. Many Indigenous scholars and community members cite involvement in place- and settings-based cultural and spiritual practices as potentially protective in reducing health risks and promoting well-being. The aim of this study is to understand the role of participation in cultural dance as a potential protective place for reducing alcohol and other drug abuse (AOD) and HIV risk, and for promoting overall health among a sample of people from an Urban Danza Mexica Community (UDMC). Narrative, as storytelling, is a powerful medium of communication with the potential to uncover important risk and protective factors among Indigenous communities globally.

Methods: This study is a secondary data analysis (n = 12; 9 included in the final analysis) of a larger qualitative AOD and HIV prevention study with UDMC in the Pacific Northwest (n = 21). The larger pilot study uses a community based participatory research approach to assess AOD, HIV and overall health needs through in-depth interviews. This secondary analysis introduces the decolonizing narratives of health (DNOH) model, developed by the author as an innovative, relational, analytic framework that places Indigenous stories in relationship to their context across 3 distinct yet interconnected levels—the personal, the communal, and Indigeneity in the larger world. These levels of narrative analysis function as culturally grounded, relational pathways through which to articulate health prevention and promotion methods. The sample of 9 participants identified ancestry among 4 Indigenous groups from across Mexico. Their ages were evenly distributed across younger and older adult cohorts (18+) with education levels from 0-8th grade, to graduate/professional degrees. Five participants self-identified as cisgender female, and 4 as cisgender male. Among the 9, one participant identified as cisgender two-spirit.

Results: The DNOH model’s narratives delve into the complex and nuanced relationships within participants’ internal worlds (personal), between themselves and their danza community (communal), and between themselves and their overall Indigenous identity within society (Indigeneity). Participants use narrative as a mechanism for resistance to colonial assaults and transmission of ancestral teachings about health and prevention. While marginalization of their intersectional identities is an ongoing challenge, participants within the danza circle use narratives to create spaces wherein they navigate complex conversations that resist oppression, reconnect with and strengthen their Indigenous identities, and strive toward ancestral visions of health and well-being.

Conclusion and Implications: This study contributes to Indigenized theoretical and methodological expansion, and to the development of place/settings-based, narrative cultural health interventions aimed at decreasing health risks and promoting wellness among populations similar to UDMC. Identifying

protective places and spaces that foster distinct pathways for decolonizing narratives helps increase understanding of its role in preventing health risk behaviors and promoting overall health and well-being among Indigenous Peoples.

A Population-Based Study of Child Maltreatment-Related Hospitalizations and Child Protection Responses

Rebecca rebbe 2019.

Despite the breadth of the identified impacts and costs of child maltreatment, a primary challenge in our understanding of child maltreatment is that we still do not have solid numbers of children who experience it. Further, despite child protection systems (CPS) being reliant on mandated reporters to bring concerns of child maltreatment to their attention, there is little information about how systems respond to concerns of child maltreatment. Informed by the public health approach and ecological systems theory, this dissertation utilizes a novel linked administrative dataset of birth, hospital discharge, and CPS records to provide new knowledge about hospitalizations related to child maltreatment. It does so in three ways: identifying the incidence and prevalence of child maltreatment-related hospitalizations, the risk and protective factors of these hospitalizations, and the systems responses to these hospitalizations, as measured by CPS reports and removals by CPS. Results indicate that most common form of child maltreatment-related hospitalizations was neglect and, more specifically, supervisory neglect. Identified risk factors included child’s low birth weight, mothers who were teenagers at the time of birth, non-first born children, maternal residence in zip codes with high concentrated disadvantage, and a prior CPS report. System responses were dependent on the subtype of maltreatment and type of diagnostic code used. Specifically, physical abuse and codes specifically related to maltreatment had higher rates of CPS reports and removals compared to the other maltreatment subtypes and diagnostic codes not specifically related to maltreatment. These results provide new knowledge regarding child maltreatment. The results can be used to target prevention programming, which are identifiable at birth, increasing their utility. The new knowledge identified through this study has important implications for our understanding of child maltreatment, how we can prevent it, and how current systems are responding to it.

Period Changes in Intergenerational Income Mobility between Welfare State Contexts in South Korea and the United States

Chiho song 2019.

Social mobility has stalled or declined in most advanced welfare states in an era of rising inequality, implying that socioeconomic disadvantages persist across generations and questioning the permeable class structure premised by a capitalist democracy. Welfare state policies aim to enhance upward social mobility for the citizenry by reducing inequality and promoting inclusive growth; however, social mobility is rarely examined as embedded within the institutional and sociocultural contexts of alternative forms of the market economy welfare state. 

Although South Korea and the United States have generally similar residual and limited welfare state regimes, this dissertation finds that the intergenerational income mobility (IGM) trends in recent decades differ remarkably between the two countries; thus, this paradox becomes the focus of the dissertation. This dissertation analyzes cross-national differences in IGM in South Korea and the United States for two birth cohorts representing contrasting period effects: between 1980-1995 and 1996-2015, using data from the Korean Labor and Income Panel Study in South Korea and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics in the United States. It then conducts a historically informed comparative analysis of between-country mobility differences as contextualized by different philosophical underpinnings of the welfare state—Confucian familial orientation in South Korea vs. libertarian individualistic orientation in the United States. 

This study presents findings in four areas. First, findings suggest no period effects on IGM in both countries, though the Korean IGM improved and the U.S.’s IGM eroded. Second, results suggest that women’s IGM in Korea changed: shifting from less to more mobile than that of men between the two study periods; whereas in the United States, IGM eroded for both men and women, with the erosion of IGM particularly pronounced among women. Third, results indicate that not only income but also family structure impacts IGM in both countries. Finally, this dissertation theorizes that it is plausible that more favorable IGM trends in Korea might in part be attributable to the benefits of its Confucian Welfare State orientation, which emphasizes promoting family system support and responsibility, over the more individualistic orientation of the American welfare state.

Examining Discourses ofBisexual Identities among Older Women

Sara jen 2018.

The Institute of Medicine (2011) has recognized LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) older adults as an understudied and underserved population at-risk of poor physical and mental health outcomes. While the acronym “LGBT” is frequently used to define this population, implying a common identity or experience, important subgroup differences are often overlooked within empirical literature (fredriksen-Goldsen & Muraco, 2010). In particular, little research explores the experiences of older bisexual individuals separately from those of lesbians and gay men (Kaestle & Ivory, 2012), an oversight that reflects the relative invisibility oftheir social position both within LGBT communities and in the broader population (Brewster & Moradi, 2010). When separate analyses or comparison studies are carried out with bisexual research participants, important differences are revealed in terms of social resources (Erosheva, Kim, Emlet, & fredriksen-Goldsen, 2015), psychological resources and coping mechanisms Battle, Harris, Donaldson, & Mushtaq, 2015), and health-related outcomes (Fredriksen-Goldsen, Shiu, Bryan, Goidsen, & Kim, 2016). Thus, a variety ofrisk and protective factors likely influence their health in unique ways.

This dissertation seeks to shift the focus of LGBT literature to center the lives of older bisexuals, who represent a sexual minority group with significant and unique health disparities in relation to heterosexual, lesbian, and gay older adults. Particularly, I will center the lives of older bisexual women whose experiences of bisexuality are also distinct from those of both bisexual men and younger bisexual women. This study is informed by a critical feminist conceptual framing, theoretical influences from gerontology and bisexuality literature, and key concepts from foucauldian discourse analysis. I will examine the ways that older bisexual women (age 60 and older) construct and make meaning out oftheir bisexual identities on individual, social, and political levels by drawing on both broad discourses and specific linguistic tools in semistructured in-depth interviews. This research is a crucial first step toward developing a better understanding of how bisexuality and experiences related to bisexuality may influence the health of older women.

Culture and History Matter: A Mixed-Methods Study of Historical Trauma and Cultural Practices as Determinants of Alcohol Use among Truku Tribal People in Taiwan

Ciwang teyra (mei-yi lee) 2017 .

Taiwanese indigenous peoples are part of the larger fabric of indigenous groups across the Pacific region. Although indigenous communities in the Pacific region possess enormous diversity in their cultures and political histories, one unfortunate commonality is significant health inequalities in comparison with non-indigenous counterparts. In Australia, for instance, the life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been shown to be 17 years less than that of the non-indigenous populations (Pulver et al., 2010). In New Zealand, the average life expectancy for Māori people was 7.3 years lower than for non-Māori populations in 2010 to 2012 (Statistics New Zealand, 2013). Similarly, indigenous peoples of Taiwan have experienced significant health inequalities in comparison with their non-indigenous counterparts, the Han population. In Taiwan, indigenous peoples have a higher mortality rate than the majority Han population, with a life expectancy that is 8.7 years lower than the national average (Council of Indigenous Peoples, 2011). Additionally, Taiwan Indigenous Health Report of 2011 indicated that alcohol-related chronic liver disease/cirrhosis and accidental injuries are among the 10 leading causes of death among indigenous communities. Indeed, alcohol use has become one of the highest-priority concerns for Taiwanese indigenous communities.

Supporting Latino Families Vulerable to Child Welfare Involvement

Jessica a.n. rodriguez-jenkins 2017 .

Background : Latino families with young children are the fastest growing group in the public child welfare system, yet a limited amount of research focuses on understanding their parenting context. This makes research understanding the context of parenting and possible predictors of nurturing parenting a central concern for child welfare researchers. A clear picture of who these families are, and how they are faring, is critical to illuminate potentially modifiable areas for interventions and prevention of future child welfare involvement. Objectives : (1) Estimate hypothesized group differences of sociodemographic characteristics and maltreatment risk and protective factors, stratified by race (Black, White, and Latina) and Latina country of origin (Mexican, Puerto Rican, and other origin) among Latinas who have been the subject of a child welfare investigation. (2) Explore possible predictors of nurturing parenting among Latina mothers drawn from variables of within group difference and micro, mezzo, and macro contexts. Methods : Data are taken from the National Survey on Child and Adolescent Well-being II – Restricted Release (NSCAW-II), a national probability sample of families who were investigated for possible maltreatment between February 2008 and April 2009 in 83 counties nationwide. The study analysis was restricted to mothers of children between 0 and 5 years old who remained in their biological mother’s care (n = 1,836). Results : Bivariate results examining sociodemographic and maltreatment risk factors demonstrate heterogeneity when Latina mothers were examined by country of origin. Puerto Rican mothers have significantly higher risk factor rates when compared to Mexican and other origin mothers – which was often obscured when Latinas were examined homogenously due to the larger percentage of Mexican mothers in the sample. Conclusion : Results from this study bring to light within group heterogeneity among these Latina mothers which was obscured by examining Latinas in aggregate. This study furthers our understanding of racial and ethnic differences among Latinas with vulnerability to child-welfare involvement in a contextually and culturally responsive manner.

Social Policy Context and Family Economic Well-being from a Comparative Perspective

Ji-young kang  2017.

My dissertation, Social Policy Context and Family Economic Well-being from a Comparative Perspective, investigates three corresponding questions of themes of social policy, family economic well-being, and inequality from comparative perspectives; (1) how family policies relevant to economically vulnerable families have changed across countries; (2) how family policies influence female employment from cross-national comparative social policy perspective; and (3) whether and to what extent U.S. maternity leave is associated with less reliance of welfare on low-income families. These three questions correspond to three papers that are connected through the development of a theoretical framework with two empirical applications.

The first paper, Welfare States, Market Economies and Family Policies, sets a framework of a broad context of cross-national comparison by integrating two contradicting theories of welfare states and market economies, one by Esping-Andersen and the other, varieties of capitalism, by Hall and Soskice. The first paper questions in what way market economies and social policy tradition (welfare states) interact to produce different clusters of family policy. This integrated framework enables us to understand the changes of family policies in different welfare states clusters, and further various forms of gender inequality by stressing the influence of family policies.

The second paper, The Danger of a One-sided Story: The Effects of Market Economies and Family Policies on the Gender Employment Gap in 17 OECD Countries, examines the effects of family policy, market economies and labor protections on female employment outcomes across countries. Using several cross-national data such as the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS), OECD Employment Outlook, and Comparative Welfare States data, I question how and to what extent macro social policy contexts such as family policy, market economies impact family well-being and gender equality especially for female work experience.

The third paper, titled The Effect of Paid Maternity Leave on Welfare Use for Low-income Families focuses on the effects of state paid maternity leave within the U.S. The various structures around maternity leave in the U.S. provide an opportunity to examine the effects of policy context, in this case different types of maternity leave, for welfare use for low-income families. I make use of a difference in difference (DinD) strategy, comparing family-level outcomes across states and over time. My findings suggest that paid state maternity leave is associated with less participation in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or public cash assistance for families with newborn babies. These results have implications for policy practice promoting family economic wellbeing in the U.S.

My dissertation contributes to the understanding of various aspects of family wellbeing, poverty and inequality across countries. It also promotes the relevant social work policy as it develops a theoretically rigorous comparative framework for understanding gender inequality and family well-being as well as it provides empirical evidences on the impacts of social welfare policies in cross-national and the U.S. contexts.

An examination of neighborhood contexts and substance use across the life course

Christopher cambron 2017 .

My dissertation project seeks to explicitly marry prevention science perspectives on risk and protective factors for problem behaviors with a consideration of proximal and distal contexts for problem health behaviors across the life course. Employing nearly 30 years of longitudinal data from the Seattle Social Development Project in conjunction with recently added GIS data, this project aims to understand the extent to which childhood and adolescent risk and protective factors impact relationships between neighborhood contexts and problem health behaviors in adulthood. The findings of this project will aid in understanding the etiology and consequences of problem behaviors across the life course and enhance the design of preventive interventions. The first paper of this project demonstrates a relationship between perceived neighborhood safety and disorganization and slowed desistance from alcohol use disorder (AUD) among adults. Employing latent growth curve modeling, results show that more disorganized neighborhoods, as characterized by crime, building decay, and lack of safety, are related to increased AUD symptoms above and beyond the average rates of decline in AUD symptoms from age 21 to 39. Model results are robust to controls for gender, ethnicity, and education as well as to accounting for more proximal predictors of AUD such as marriage status and anxiety or depression. Further analyses will help disentangle relationships among neighborhoods and health behaviors through expanded consideration of built environment features and attention to early life risk and protective factors as a precondition for later life health behavior.

Intergenerational Adversity: Longitudinal Implications on the Parental Capacities of Latina and African-American Mothers and Their Children’s Wellbeing

Sharon g. borja  2017.

Adversities in childhood pose significant jeopardy of poor early life outcomes that can have lasting consequences, compromising future wellbeing of young children. Childhood exposures to extremely stressful experiences including multiple forms of adversities such as child maltreatment, poverty, family instability, violence at home and parent criminal and substance abuse histories become potential pathways to negative social and emotional outcomes. My dissertation uses a two-generation approach to build upon the mounting evidence on adverse childhood experiences and generate evidence regarding intergenerational adversity and its impact on parental capacities and early childhood socio-emotional health. This approach considers the nested nature of the parent-child relationship and focuses on further disentangling intergenerational processes of adversity accumulation and their impact on both generations.

Using the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing data (N=4,898), a birth-cohort longitudinal study of mostly low-income children and their parents, I am examining intergenerational adversity and its proximal consequences during critical periods of development in early childhood (ages 1, 3, and 5) and testing variations across racial/ethnic group. Secondly, I am using structural equation modeling to test the cumulative effects of adversity on parenting stress and parental capacities and whether they serve as mechanisms through which adversity impacts child socio-emotional outcomes. Testing parenting stress and parental capacity as pathways to socio-emotional health outcomes helps us understand how adversity could deplete energies of otherwise caring adults and whether it also reduces their capacities to provide a safe and nurturing environment during developmentally sensitive life periods. Finally, I am testing the protective role of informal supports in buffering adversity’s negative impact on parental capacities and childhood socio-emotional wellbeing over time and comparing these results across racial/ethnic groups. The growing cultural diversity of families in the U.S. is illuminating, for example, differing forms and composition of support system (e.g. extended family members, friends, and church and community members) theorized in my conceptual model as buffering factors that are more figural in some family populations.

The longitudinal approach of this dissertation in understanding complex intergenerational processes of adversity accumulation and childhood socio-emotional outcomes sheds light to the factors that could vary over time and whether these variations account for some of the outcomes in both generations. These variations over time especially during critical periods of early childhood have been mostly overlooked in literature. Results from this project have implications toward the prevention of child maltreatment as it takes a two-generation approach to better understand ways that parents thrive in adversity so they can create a safe and nurturing context necessary for their children. This is particularly crucial for families of color who are often at the intersection of multi-form adversity and racial disparities and are disproportionately represented in the child welfare system.

Policy-driven vis-à-vis refugee-driven resettlement: A nationwide, multiple methods, case study examination of placement patterns and services for resettled refugees

Odessa gonzalez benson 2017.

Refugees and resettlement policy have been contentiously debated in public and policy discourse, prompted by the ‘refugee crisis’ in Europe in 2015 and public reaction in the US. Resettlement policy is about refugees and local communities, but, importantly, it also bespeaks the commitments and values of countries of reception. Called for are new insights and critical examination of the latest cohorts of refugees in the post-Sept11 era of resettlement.

Resettlement policy, as anti-poverty program for refugees, forwards its goal of socioeconomic integration through appropriate geographic placement and service provision. However, refugees and their communities, naturally, very much also determine their own resettlement, via self-placement and refugee-based services. My research examines (a) refugees’ selfplacement or internal migration patterns and (b) services and goals of refugee-ran community organizations, and the ways in which those patterns, services and goals are in/congruent with policy. This research is nationwide in scope and applies a case study approach, focusing on Bhutanese refugees, one of the new refugee cohorts in the post-September 11 era. Empirically, I apply both quantitative and qualitative methods to examine data from several sources, and partnered with refugee organizations for primary data collection, participant recruitment and analyses.

First, I lay the national landscape of primary arrival placement and internal migration patterns, and then conduct a comparative examination of relevant city-level factors explaining refugees’ in/out-migration patterns into localities across the US. Appropriate placement of refugees is important but has long been problematic in resettlement policy. After placement in primary cities of arrival, refugees commonly move or relocate domestically -- internal migration, disarraying the government’s planned dispersion strategy. Migrants’ voluntary movements are natural and expected, but difficult to predict and track, complicating policy funding appropriations and service provision and impacting refugees and local communities.

Quantitatively, I use official population data in US cities of arrival (n=287) from the US Office of Refugee Resettlement and community-based population data in cities of domestic migration. I visually and represent resettlement patterns in maps, using the Geographic Information Systems software ARCGIS. I used data from the US Census, the US Office of Refugee G. Odessa Gonzalez Benson 2 Resettlement and other publicly available sources to construct city-level indicators for relevant factors, particularly low-wage labor and local immigrant policy. I conducted multivariate analyses of the contribution of each factor to the net in- or out-migration of refugees in each city, using the statistical package STATA. Findings indicate job quality and local integration policies as relevant factors for refugees’ internal migration away from traditional immigrant gateways and into new immigrant destinations in the midwest and southwest, mimicking domestic paths of previous migrants, particularly those from Mexico and Latin America.

Second, I examine refugee community organizations’ goals and activities, and congruence with federal policy and implementing agencies. Self-sufficiency as policy goal is measured as refugees’ job rate within eight months of arrival; the bulk of services goes to job placement. That outcome has been critiqued as misguided and failing to capture self-sufficiency in a more meaningful way. Integration, meanwhile, as policy goal is not systematically measured due to lack of policy guidance and a clear definition. Unclear and unmeasured policy goals pose problems in program implementation, with ramifications for refugees and local communities. Too often neglected in resettlement policy research are refugee community organizations that form and operate along the sidelines of federally-contracted resettlement agencies, and serve high-needs, high-poverty areas. Interrogating refugee organizations against the broader policy and institutional contexts offers new insights and raises questions about participatory approaches and effective service provision with refugee communities.

Qualitatively, I use 40 semi-structured interviews and four focus groups with refugee leaders of Bhutanese refugee organizations in 30 cities across the US, using the coding software ATLAS.ti. I identify themes and patterns in the data and formulate a typology of activities, and then examine goal congruence with federal policy. Findings indicate that refugee community organizations fill in gaps in service to complement policy-mandated service provision and federal policy goals, but are also self-determining in other ways.

The theoretical dimension of my dissertation project draws upon social work literature and interdisciplinary perspectives, in political science and human geography or migration studies specifically. I formulate discussions about refugee resettlement that considers participatory approaches and labor equity as part of socioeconomic integration or adjustment processes of refugees, as contextualized by locality and policy.

Native Women, Intimate Partner Violence, and Drug Use and Consequences: Prevalence and Associations among Tribal College and University Students

Katie a'neil schultz 2016.

Research has demonstrated high rates of problematic substance use in college and American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) samples and disproportionately high rates of intimate partner violence (IPV) among Native women. Epidemiological data on drug use and comorbidities in AIAN populations are scarce and the identification of tribally-specific protective factors that might buffer the effect of IPV on subsequent drug use lacks adequate empirical research in this population. This study investigates prevalence estimates and relationships between drug use and IPV and the potential for ethnic identity to buffer the effect of IPV on drug outcomes among Native women at Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs).

State Social Safety Net Programs and the Great Recession: The First Line of Defense and the Last Resort for the Economically Disadvantaged

Yu-ling chang  2016.

The Great Recession (2007‒2009) and its lingering aftermath have posed challenges to the state safety net programs that are intended to provide income supports to the economically disadvantaged. The stratified, decentralized structure of the US social welfare system has contributed to uneven policy responses to the economic hardship across programs and states. With a focus on the Unemployment Insurance (UI) and General Assistance (GA) programs, this dissertation consists of three papers that investigate (1) the impacts of state UI modernization, (2) state UI approaches to social protection, and (3) state legislative reform of GA, respectively. This dissertation takes a multidisciplinary approach that integrates theoretical perspectives and research methods from social welfare, sociology, political science, and economics.

The first paper evaluates the effects of state UI modernization on the trajectories of household income-to- poverty levels during and after the Great Recession. It uses the nationally representative 2008 Survey of Income and Program Participation panel dataset (merged with state data) and multi-level growth models to test the policy effects from 2008 through 2013. Findings show that working families had not yet fully recovered from the Great Recession by the end of 2013. However, working families in states enacting UI modernization provisions, on average, experienced a greater economic improvement rate in the income-to- poverty level than their counterparts, controlling for state and household characteristics.

The second paper classifies state UI policy approaches to social protection by using an advanced model-based clustering technique to analyze multidimensional policy design and performance characteristics of 51 UI programs. Results indicate two distinct state UI approaches to social protection for workers: high and low protection. The high-protection approach, compared to its low-protection counterpart, is characterized as combining high financing adequacy with high taxable wages and average tax rates; high program accessibility with inclusive eligibility criteria; and high wage replacement with high benefit levels. These two approaches remained comparatively stable over time. However, both showed a declining trend in the social protection performances from 2007 to 2014.

The third paper employs a thematic content analysis of 26 legislative videos to examine how policy actors used knowledge to frame the problems of the poor and shape GA reform in Washington State. Findings show that knowledge construction of the GA-unemployable population as social deviants with psychological and behavioral problems influenced the GA reform directions toward a regulated, punitive model. These negative social constructions, intersecting with the mainstream welfare ideology of personal responsibility and work ethic, contributed to dismantling the safety net of last resort for the least resourceful poor.

As a whole, this dissertation research contributes to the fields of state welfare politics, policies, and practice through enhancing the understanding of the connections among macroeconomic conditions, anti-poverty politics, policy designs, and the state safety net system. Policy implications for promoting economic justice for disadvantaged and marginalized populations are offered.

Foreclosure Counseling with Latino Households: Policy Assumptions in a Changing Demographic Landscape

Maria y. rodriguez  2016 .

Social work practice and scholarship was historically rooted in the development and analysis of policy (Rodriguez, Ostrow, & Kemp, 2016). Yet, little work has extended our knowledge base on the factors surrounding the development of housing policy and its impact on the populations we serve. The dearth of housing policy research within social welfare is particularly troubling in light of the recent foreclosure crisis (2007-2012). Notably, low-income and Latino households were disproportionality represented in the foreclosure crisis (Hall, Crowder, & Spring, 2015; Rugh, 2014), suggesting that foreclosure mitigation policies should have been crafted with these groups in mind. This dissertation aims to investigate how these households fared in the development of foreclosure mitigation policies, in order to understand how responsive policy makers can be to the context of social problems. Using a three-paper format, this dissertation investigates the development, implementation, and impact of the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NFMC) program. The dissertation uses a policy process centered conceptual framework to explain how certain groups were left out of NFMC’s purview. Each paper addresses one of the three levels of social work practice: micro, mezzo, and macro. Results indicate that, beyond being adversely impacted by the foreclosure crisis, communities of color have reaped little benefit from foreclosure mitigation policy as a result of the social constructions they are assigned during the policy making process. Latino households in particular, while experiencing a rising contender status in the federal housing policy arena, are nonetheless not benefiting from foreclosure mitigation policy in ways commiserate with the impact of the crisis on this demographic group. Recalibrating the social work research agenda toward policy study is the most direct way to address the social and economic conditions that prevent the most vulnerable from claiming and exercising full citizenship in the United States today.

Examining the role of place-based interventions in supporting military families: A qualitative study of family-centered therapeutic landscapes

Sara r. green 2016.

United States military families, including active duty, Reserve and National Guard, and veteran families, continue to face challenges and risks to psycho-social health and well-being. Deployments are ongoing and represent a significant source of stress during which families attempt to maintain relationships across great distance and within the dangerous context of wartime service. Injured service members (both those who continue to serve and those who are separated from the military) and their families, contend with multiple issues related to managing symptoms, finding adequate treatment, and carving out lives under new circumstances. Research with military families continues to be essential to understanding how to best support the military members, spouses/partners, and children who sacrifice so much with their service.

This qualitative dissertation uses a grounded theory approach to explore military families’ experiences of stress and coping during deployment, especially those of female spouses. In addition, it examines family-level efforts to reconnect and reintegrate post- deployment and post-injury through participation in a family retreat program. In particular, this study focuses on the emplaced experiences inherent to maintaining the home during deployment and attending a place-based retreat. In doing so, this study implements a family systems approach to understanding these emplaced experiences, acknowledging the complex relational connections within families and the ways in which stressful events in particular, have ripple effects through the family unit.

This dissertation is comprised of three papers empirically based on qualitative interviews with parents who attended the National Military Family Association’s Operation Purple Family Retreat® (OPFR) and Operation Purple Healing Adventures® (OPHA) programs in 2013. The first paper looks at the deployment experiences of 43 female spouses with children, with particular attention to the often overlooked duties spouses take on as the primary parent on the home front. This paper conceptualizes military spouses as “stay-behind parents” and presents findings related to the stress and coping processes characteristic of this role. The second paper turns to parents’ experiences at the Operation Purple retreats and seeks to understand how these family programs function as “therapeutic landscapes,” a health geography framework used to understand links between places and healing. Interviews with 50 parents demonstrate interconnected program components related to the physical environment, social environment, and symbolic environment that facilitated participants’ therapeutic experiences. The third paper examines respondents’ experiences of the nature settings where the Operation Purple retreats occurred, seeking to illuminate the lived (military family) experience of spending time in natural environments. Findings are arranged in three phenomenological domains that both confirm and extend existing nature-health research: Being away, Being in, and Being fascinated.

This study seeks to deepen our understanding of military family life and the ways in which military family systems are impacted by wartime service, deployment, and parental injury. It also aims to direct attention to existing, on-the- ground supports for military families, and place-based programs in particular. By theorizing mechanisms at work in these programs, practices can be further refined and developed to meet the needs of military families.

Cultivating Care: Understanding Intimate Partner Violence Experiences of Undocumented Latinas in Washington State

Miriam valdovinos 2016.

Researchers have broadly studied the etiology, prevalence rates, incidence rates, health consequences, and potential interventions for intimate partner violence (IPV) often referred to as domestic violence (DV). However, research with immigrant communities has remained limited especially with respect to a link between undocumented immigration status and IPV for Latinas in Washington State. IPV dilemmas continue to impact many undocumented women. This qualitative study utilized testimonio 1 to investigate the IPV experiences of undocumented Latina immigrant women. Community-based participatory research techniques were integrated throughout the research process; hence, IPV phenomena were examined using an alternative conceptual model that centered the voices of the women. A Chicana feminist lens and intersectionality frameworks were incorporated to IPV survivorship models (Gondolf & Fisher, 1988) to expand the understanding of undocumented IPV survivors’ lived experiences.

This study empirically captured the perceptions of 20 Latina immigrants living in western Washington State to first examine how their immigration status impacted their IPV experiences. The impact of their ethnicity, gender, class, and nationality was explored not only as discrete phenomena but also from an intersectional perspective. Second, attention was given to their interactions with informal social support networks (e.g., friends, family) and formal help-seeking efforts (e.g., accessing shelters, calling the police) to better illustrate their survivorship process based on Gondolf & Fisher’s (1988) survivor theory. Third, the research highlighted how survivors expressed strength and hope to imagine a future without IPV for themselves and women relatives in future generations. Aligned with social work’s commitment to social justice and advocacy to end injustices, the knowledge generated from this inquiry propositioned new insights to inform IPV practices with marginalized communities such as undocumented immigrant women whose voices were often silenced or not visible in previous studies.

School Mobility for Children in Out-of- Home Placement: Incidence, Educational Outcomes, and Tools for Mitigation

Joseph a. mienko 2016.

Elevated school mobility (SM) for students in foster care (i.e. out-of- home placement (OHP)) is something that has been previously noted in non-peer- reviewed literature. At some level, this trend is precisely what would be expected. In the absence of a policy seeking to actively prevent SM for students in OHP, removing a student from one home and placing him in another would necessarily place him at increased risk of a school change. While such school changes would be expected to contribute to decreased educational achievement for any student, the combination of such changes in conjunction with the potential social and emotional barriers faced by a student in OHP appears to exacerbate the effects on academic performance for students in OHP compared with the effects of SM on students in the general population. Understanding the phenomenon of SM for students in OHP and policies that can be adopted to combat SM is thus of importance to the fields of education and social work. In spite of the importance of SM for students in OHP, the peer-reviewed literature is nearly silent on this topic. This dissertation seeks to provide a comprehensive analysis of differences in school mobility as a function of OHP status and assess specific policy tools for minimizing SM.

“Truth Plus Publicity”: Paul U. Kellogg and Hybrid Practice, 1902-1937

Caroline a. lanza  2016 .

Intended as a historical starting point for a critically informed assessment of the state of multimedia social work research, advocacy and practice, this dissertation explores the methods and practice models envisioned by Progressive Era social work leader and media producer, journalist, and editor Paul U. Kellogg (1879-1958). Kellogg harnessed the most advanced visual technologies of his time in service of progressive social change. In social surveys such as The Pittsburgh Survey and in his editorship of two widely read periodical publications, The Survey and Survey Graphic, Kellogg brilliantly combined documentary photography, art, maps, data, and textual narratives with the goal of making unavoidably visible the inequities of industrializing America.

Key aspects of Kellogg’s contributions—particularly his vision for a social work practice deploying media production in service of community-based research, education, and political advocacy—have largely been forgotten, particularly in social work. Responding to this historical amnesia, this dissertation aims to document and analyze, in their innovation and limitations, the projects Kellogg undertook during his career. I aim to enrich the field’s historical memory of Kellogg’s variation on the social survey method, which sought to assess conditions of health, environmental safety, and labor in a given geographic area as carried out during the Pittsburgh Survey, 1907-1908.

Representing a moment in which the social work profession was focused on environmental intervention in low-income urban communities, Kellogg’s variation on the social survey method emphasized the significance of multidisciplinary teams and partnerships with local community organizations. In light of a recent re-commitment by social welfare researchers to environmental, place-based practice (Kemp & Palinkas, 2015), it feels especially timely to explicate Kellogg's social survey methodology.

Kellogg’s approach was distinctly journalistic in that it demanded that social workers produce media in order to disseminate findings not only to community stakeholders but also to the larger voting public in order to influence social action and policy-making. As social work research methods employing media approaches ranging from photography and video to participatory mapping rise in popularity, there seems to be little awareness of this prior rich period of media-based practice and research during the Progressive era. Revisiting Kellogg’s methodology counters a presentism in currentscholarship regarding media-based methods.

Several scholars of social research have measured the success of the Pittsburgh Survey by contemporary standards of empirical, quantitative research and found it lacking (Bulmer, 1991, 1996; Turner, 1996; Zimbalist, 1977). I believe I bring a fresh perspective by considering it as a genealogical forebear of community-engaged approaches operating in epistemological frameworks that appreciate the significance of both emic and etic knowledges of place and community.

Paul U. Kellogg’s publications positioned social workers as public pundits in regards to interventions in poverty and social welfare policy (Chambon, 2012), providing them with a public voice that the field has largely lacked since his journals closed down in 1949 and 1952. By exploring Kellogg’s publishing collective, Survey Associates, and their publications, The Survey and Survey Graphic, I hope to raise questions regarding the loss of a media platform upon which social work practitioners and scholars can engage each other and the public regarding a variety of issues and to consider what the legacy of what this period means for current practitioners of public scholarship in social work.

Being, Belonging, and Connecting: Filipino Youths’ Narratives of Place(s) and Wellbeing in Hawai′i

Stella m. gran-o'donnell  2016 .

Environmental climate change is an urgent concern for Pacific Islanders with significant impact on place along with bio-psycho-social-cultural-spiritual influences likely to affect communities’ wellbeing. Future generations will bear the burden. Indigenous scholars have begun to address climate-based place changes; however, immigrant Pacific Islander populations have been ignored. Although Filipinos are one of the fastest growing U.S. populations, the second largest immigrant group, and second largest ethnic group in Hawai’i, lack of understanding regarding their physical health and mental wellbeing remains, especially among youth. This dissertation addresses these gaps. In response to Kemp’s (2011) and Jack’s (2010, 2015) impassioned calls for the social work profession to advance place research among vulnerable populations, this qualitative study examined Filipino youths’ (15-23) experiences of place(s) and geographic environment(s) in Hawai′i. Drawing on Indigenous worldviews, this study examined how youth narrate their sense of place, place attachments, ethnic/cultural identity/ies, belonging, connectedness to ancestral(Philippines) and contemporary homelands (Hawai’i), virtual environment(s), and how these places connect to wellbeing.

Proximal minority stressors, chronic health conditions, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older adults’ psychological well-being: Do sexual orientation and gender identity play differential roles?

Charles p. hoy-ellis 2015.

An accumulating body of research indicates that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older adult populations in the United States experience significant physical and mental health disparities relative to their heterosexual peers (Institute of Medicine, 2011). LGBT older adults are among those specifically targeted in the national initiative to reduce population health disparities and improve the nation’s health (I.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011). High levels of psychological distress among LGBT older adults are among the identified disparities (Fredricksen-Goldsen, Kim, Barkan, Muraco, & Hoy-Ellis, in press; Valanis et al., 2000; Wallace, Coehran, Durazo, & Ford, 2011). The relationship between sexual orientation and psychological distress among LGBT older adults is far from clear (Cochran & Mays, 2007). It is not enough that health disparities be documented; understanding the underlying mechanisms of risk is crucial to the development of effective interventions (Institute of Medicine, 2011). Effective interventions are important tools in reducing population health disparities.

In the general population, psychological distress and psychiatric morbidity have been linked to significantly increased risk of premature onset of age-related chronic health conditions (Russ eta al., 2012; Wolkowitz, Reus, & Bellon, 2011). Conversely, those who experience psychological distress are more likely to report chronic health conditional risk factors such as alcohol misuse and smoking do not fully explain these recursive relationships (Wolkowitz et al., 2011). In addition to significantly higher rates of psychological distress, LGBT older adults also have higher rates of age-related chronic health conditions (Fredriksen-Goldsen, Cook-Daniels, et al., in press; Fredriksen-Goldsen, Kim, et al., in press; Valanis et al., 2000; Wallace et al., 2011). The relationship between age-related chronic health conditions, sexual orientation, gender, gender expression and identity, and psychological distress among LGBT older adults is only just beginning to be explored by researchers (Fredriksen-Goldsen, Cook-Daniels, et al., in press; Fredriksen-Goldsen, Emlet, et al., in press; Sandfort, Bakker, Schellevis, & Vanwesenbeeck, 2006).

Multi-type maltreatment and adult health risk behavior: A latent variable modeling approach

J. bart klika 2014.

Child abuse and neglect increases the risk for later health risk behaviors including substance abuse and antisocial behavior. Research shows there is considerable overlap in different forms of child abuse, as well as neglect, yet most studies of adverse outcomes only examine single forms of abuse or neglect in predictive models. Various methods have been used to examine the overlap in child abuse and neglect, including Latent Class and Latent Profile Analysis (LCA/LPA). LCA/LPA, a latent variable modeling approach, accounts for heterogeneity in maltreatment experiences by grouping individuals together into distinct classes/profiles who share similar experiences of abuse and neglect. In the proposed dissertation, I plan to utilize LCA/LPA to examine overlap in child maltreatment types and to study predictors and outcomes of latent class membership representing this overlap. Outcomes of particular interest ate health risk behaviors, such as substance abuse and antisocial behavior.

An examination of Family Capital (resources) effects on young adults education attainment and other life outcomes: focus on economic, social and cultural capital

Eric n. waithaka 2014.

The current cohort of young adults in America is transitioning into adulthood in a period characterized by changing social and economic opportunities. Currently, the American society is reported to be experiencing increased levels of social and economic inequalities in virtually every aspect of American life, from wealth, to incomes, to educational attainment, to health care or even job security (Blank, 201 1; Page & Jacobs, 2009). For example, current estimates ofthe wealth gap between the rich and the poor suggests that the top 1% of households holds more wealth than the entire bottom 95% (Blank, 2011). This increasing inequality is troubling and scholars, politicians and the popular media pundits are providing their opinions on the implications of this troubling trend. In addition, various groups (such as labor unions, government employees, community groups, student organizations) in the general • citizenry all over the nation are organizing and demonstrating (as the 99% versus 1%) about a societal system and public policies that appear to favor the rich and disfranchise everyone else.

Gender differences in the link between trauma and smoking in two generations

Allison kristman-valente 2014.

Although men and women have similar rates of tobacco use, there are differneces in consequences and recent trends. Women who smoke have unique health consequences including cervical cancer, increased susceptibility to tobacco carcinogenesis, early menopause, and problematic fetal development [1]. Alarmingly, women’s rate of smoking has been declining slower than men’s. Reasons why smoking is showing less decline in women are not clear, and this warrants further investigation.

The experience of trauma has been proposed as a reason for gender disparities in substance use in general, and may be specifically relevant for smoking behavior, however much less is known about the role of gender in the link between trauma and smoking [2-4]. Trauma itself is inherently gendered with differences in the prevalence rates, types of trauma and consequences. Men are more likely to report combat-related trauma while women are more likely to experience interpersonal trauma such as childhood maltreatment (CM) and intimate partner violence (IPV) and are also more likely to receive a trauma-related diagnosis including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) [2, 5\. Studies have connected stressful life events and trauma-related disorders with increased smoking behavior, resistance to quitting and failure to quite [6-8]. However, few studies investigate gender differences in trauma exposure as a risk factor for smoking. Understanding the role of trauma, in conjunction with other risk factors for smoking, is particularly important amount woman since (1) it remains unclear which smoking interventions are more effective for women compared to men [9, 10] and (2) women are disproportionately more likely to be primary caregivers of children. Thus, investigating differences in how women and men experience traumatic events, how they use smoking to cope with these experiences and how comorbid trauma and smoking translates to their children’s smoking may explain underlying causes and cross-generational persistence of smoking behavior.

Gender differences and similarities in the link between trauma and smoking behavior will be examined using existing data from two linked longitudinal studies: the Seattle Social Development Project (SSDP), a gender-balanced sample of 412 men and 396 women who have been followed from childhood (age 10)to adulthood (age 33), and the SSDP Intergenerational Project (TIP), a study of the children of SSDP participants who have been followed from childhood through adolescence. SSDP and TIP data are ideal for studying the role of gender in the trauma-smoking behavior link because they include comprehensive longitudinal measures of smoking onset, frequency and patterns of use, DIS/DSM-IV diagnostic assessments for nicotine dependence and multiple measures of trauma including childhood maltreatment, intimate partner violence and PTSD diagnostic criteria. Both longitudinal studies are gender balanced and have multiple assessments (13 in SSDP, 7 in TIP), with high retention across waves. The proposed study is illustrated in Figure 1 and has the following aims.

Development and Impact of Future Self-Concept among African American and Latino Young Men

Dana prince 2014.

How young people conceptualize and cognitively represent their futures— as full of positive potential or constraints and negative possibilities—bears influence on their developmental trajectories. Adolescence is marked as a developmental period when future-thinking (or future orientation) becomes increasingly salient. Future self-concepts, or possible selves, are self-relevant cognitions of enduring goals, aspirations, hopes, fears and threats that function as a framework and guide for individual identity development (Markus & Nurius, 1986). For adolescents, a foreshortened view of the future, or beliefthat “I might nct be here tomorrow,” contributes to increased risky health behaviors (Rothrnan, Bernstein & Strunin, 2010; Borowsky, Ireland & Resnick, 2009; Burton, Obeidallah & Allison, 1996) and lower • educational investment (Abedalu, 2007; Horstmanshof & Zimitat, 2007; Oyserrnan, Bybee & Terry, 2006), underscoring the importance of future orientation as a potential change mechanism for intervention and prevention efforts to promote healthy youth development.

Truncated life expectancy may contribute to hopelessness and a subsequent stunting of a young person’s ability to take initiative, imagine and pursue goals, and persist towards desired future aspirations. Prevalence rates of the belief in premature death reported by adolescents are significantly over-inflated when compared with actual rates of early death (Jamieson & Romer, 2008). A recent study conducted using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health found that I in 7 youth endorsed the belief that they had a 50% chance of living to age 35 (Borowsky, Ireland & Resnick, 2009). Low adolescent perceived survival expectations are more prevalent in males, racial/ethnic minorities, urban-dwelling youth and youth who receive public assistance (Duke, Skay, Pettingell & Borowsky, 2009). Youth who endorse fatalistic beliefs in early to mid-adolescence are less likely to be in school, employed, in the military and less likely to have a high school diploma in young adulthood (Duke, et al, 2011). Evidence suggests the consequences of fatalistic beliefs in adolescence extend into adulthood, predicting lower educational attainment and socioeconomic status (Nguyen, Hussey, Haplern, et al, 2012). The implications of truncated life expectancy for adolescent health and well-being warrant future investigation.

The central focus of this dissertation is to investigate how African American and Latino young men envision their overarching future possibility and the consequences of blunted future perspective on indicators of their well-being. This involves research and service response implications germane to social welfare in terms of supporting healthy development for historically marginalized and underserved youth. The Chicago Youth Development Study (CYDS), a longitudinal prospective cohort study, will serve as the foundation for my dissertation research.

Association of Filial Responsibility, Ethnicity, and Acculturation of Asian Family Caregivers of Older Adults

Christina e. miyawaki 2014.

Due to Confucian, Asian culture is known to respect elders and practice of filial obligation is embedded in their cultures. The proposed study seeks to explore the level of filial (e.g., familial) responsibility, health status and needs of later generation (2’’ and 3rd generations) of Asian American family caregivers of older adults, specifically five ethnic subgroups of Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese caregivers. Data from a biennial population-based telephone survey, the 2009 California Health Interview Survey Adult 18+ are used. There are three studies within the overall design. Study 1 uses one-way analysis of variance to describe the overall characteristics of Asian, Latino and White American caregivers. Study 2 utilizes multivariate regression to examine the generational differences in caregiving-related issues across these three racial and ethnic groups. Based on findings from Study 1 and 2, Study 3 focuses specifically on Asian American caregivers and involves interviews with 2’ and 3td generations of two ofthe subgroups: 40 Chinese- and Japanese-American caregivers in order to explore in-depth generational differences in their level of filial responsibility and their caregiving needs. Given the increasing ethnic diversity of immigrant populations, especially older Asian population, it is imperative to understand how caregivers’ level of filial responsibility, effects of caregiving on their health, and needs vary by ethnicity and generation. Understanding these relationships will help the development of more targeted culturally- and generationally-specific assessment and clinical interventions, and therefore, has implications for social welfare policies and programs.

Incarceration and the life course: Predictors and consequences of varied patterns of juvenile incarceration

Amanda gilman 2014.

Goals and Objective: The purpose of this study is to examine the role of juvenile incarceration in life course development. I will use a longitudinal study spanning from childhood to adulthood, a mixed methods design aimed at increasing both the breadth and depth of understanding, and an innovative measure of incarceration (examining patterns over adolescence, rather than a single indicator of incarceration). This study investigates the early childhood legal and extra-legal factors predicting these patterns, and the long-term criminal, health, and mental health outcomes associated with differential exposure to incarceration during adolescence.

Subjects: Data are drawn from the Seattle Social Development Project (SSDP), a longitudinal study ideally suited to address these research questions, consisting of a gender-balanced, ethnically diverse sample of 80$ participants who were in the 5th grade in 1985 in the Seattle Public Schools. Participants have been followed prospectively into adulthood, and at the last data collection period were approximately 35 years old. Fifty-two percent had participated in the National School Lunch Program. Approximately 34% of the sample experienced a referral to the juvenile delinquency court at some point in adolescence and 14% were incarcerated as a result of a court adjudication.

Research Design and Methods: Secondary data from the SSDP sample will be used to quantitatively analyze predictors and consequences of incarceration for youth who experienced this sanction during adolescence, using the remainder of the high-risk sample who were never incarcerated as a comparison group. Additionally, original qualitative data will be collected from a subset of those who were incarcerated as youth to examine how their experiences of incarceration affected their transition to adulthood.

Analysis: Multinomial logistic regression will be used to predict patterns of incarceration. Propensity score analysis, in conjunction with regression analyses, will be used to examine consequences of patterns of incarceration. Finally, qualitative interview data will be coded for common themes and used to further understand and interpret the results found in the quantitative analyses.

Products and Reports: The results of this work will be pertinent to public policy, juvenile justice practice, and life course criminology, and will result in at least three manuscripts which will be submitted to high-quality academic journals for publication. My broad dissemination plan also involves presenting the findings at both academic and practitioner-oriented conferences, dissemination through The Social Development Research Group (SDRG) newsletter and mailing list, and outreach to the general public through the use of op-eds.

Understanding Protective Factors and theft Effects on Youth Developmental Outcomes: Implications for Community-Based Prevention

Kyung elizabeth kim 2014.

The social work profession emphasizes the importance of strength-based practice, policy, and research. Despite this current emphasis on a strengths perspective, only in the 1 9$Os did the transition from deficit-focused to strengths-based practice occur (Saleebey, 1996; Weick, Sullivan, & Walter, 1989). Rather than simply diagnosing problems, social workers came to respect the possibility and capability of individuals to overcome problems and change for the better. The fundamental premise of a strengths-perspective is that the individuals will indeed fare better if they “identify, recognize, and use the strengths and resources available in themselves and their environment” (Graybeal, 2001, p. 234). Thus, strength-based practice is inherently grounded in a person-in-environment perspective where “strength” does not stem from individuals alone but also from the surrounding environment — friends, families, schools, neighborhoods, etc. (Kemp, Whittaker, & Tracy, 1997). Also in research, social work scholars became more interested in understanding individual and environmental strengths that foster healthy development in the face of adversity (Benard, 2006). In addition to understanding the likelihood of youth exposed to adversities engaging in problem behaviors, studies focused on how youth with adversities develop into successful adults. Yet, clearly defining and operationalizing “strength” remains a challenging task (Mm, 2011).

In my dissertation, using strength-based framework, I incorporate important elements of prevention science and theory to provide further clarity in defining strengths across youth development — what they are and how they develop. Furthermore, I seek to understand the role of strength in reducing problem behaviors and promoting positive behaviors through a community based prevention strategy. In doing so, I hope to shed light on how and when these strengths can be targets of interventions to achieve social, emotional, and behavioral health across youth development.

Patterns of Adolescent and Young Adult Sexual Behavior: Predictors and Consequences

Kari m. gloppen 2014.

Adolescent and young adult sexual behavior is an important health and welfare issue that has the potential to impact the entire life course. Risky sexual behavior can lead to sexually transmitted infections including HW as well as unintended pregnancy. By understanding the social and cognitive processes that influence sexual behavior choices during adolescence and young adulthood, we will be better able to promote positive sexual health and reduce the potential negative consequences of risky sexual behavior. This sttidy uses data from the Raising Healthy Children study, a longitudinal study of participants from 10 public elementary schools in the Pacific Northwest, to explore the social and cognitive influences on sexual behavior decisions, the patterns of sexual behavior during adolescence and young adulthood, and the predictors and consequences of those sexual behavior patterns. This dissertation uses the 3 paper option preceded with an introduction and summarized by a conclusion that integrates the findings from the three papers. Paper I examines theory-guided social and cognitive predictors of age of sexual initiation using structural equation modeling. Paper 2 identifies patterns of sexual behavior over time among adolescents and young adults and the predictors of those patterns using latent class analysis. Paper 3 explores the consequences of the identified sexual behavior patterns and examines gender differences in both the patterns and consequences. Findings from these papers will increase our understanding of the social and cognitive processes during childhood and adolescence that influence sexual decision making. They will provide us with information on the longitudinal patterns of sexual behavior of young people and their predictors, and how these patterns influence later emotional, health, and social outcomes. These results will provide important information that can be used in developing both sexual risk reduction and sexual health promotion programs.

Front Line Accounts of Implementation of Evidence-Based Interventons in Core Safety Net Settings

Margaret a. cristofalo 2014.

Despite a prolific amount of evidence-based practices (EBPs), patients are not receiving these health and mental health interventions as much as they should. Patients relegated to the core safety net, a subset of the health care safety net with a mission or legal mandate to care for uninsured, underinsured, or other vulnerable populations, face even greater obstacles to receiving evidence-based care. The fundamental research that has shaped current implementation models has been informed by multiple fields, including health and mental health care primarily serving patients with insurance, and fields outside of human services. Therefore, much less is known about the processes and influences unique to implementation of EBPs in settings serving vulnerable patients. Three qualitative studies, using grounded theory methodology, were undertaken to examine the unique processes and contextual influences of implementations of three different EBPs in three different core safety net settings. Semistructured interviews and focus groups of administrators and front line clinicians participating in the implementations of the EBPs were employed to ascertain their knowledge and experiences. Findings in all three studies revealed interacting beneficial and challenging factors woven together in ways that the fabric of their combinations supported successful implementations, or possessed vulnerabilities that impeded them. Key findings across all studies were the importance of the following influences: 1- intervention fit with patient characteristics and beliefs, community needs, and organization mission, 2- intervention adaptability, quality, and observability, 3- clinician beliefs and behaviors 4- clinical staffing, training, and education, 5- structural and cultural organizational assets, and 6- ongoing network and system building. Results from these studies can provide direction for developing implementation frameworks unique to core safety net settings.

Religious Beliefs and Practices and Mental Health Care: Examining the Use of Mental Health Services among Immigrants

Amelia seraphia derr 2014.

Members of immigrant communities are at greater risk for mental health disorders, yet are less likely than other groups to access critical health and mental health services (Alegria et a!., 2007; DHHS, 2001). One reason for disparities in service utilization may relate to the religious beliefs and practices of immigrants and how these are associated with help-seeking behavior. Despite the increasing awareness of the centrality of religion in immigrant identity (Ebaugh & Chafetz, 2000), and the association of religious beliefs and practices with immigrant adjustment and immigrant mental health care (Cadge & Ecklund, 2007), religious beliefs and practices have rarely been studied as a factor in accessing mental health services for immigrants. To address this shortcoming, this study is designed to examine the role of religion in the help-seeking process in order to further understand immigrant mental health service utilization. To capture the heterogeneity of immigrant experiences with mental health service use, I propose to use Latent Class Analysis with data from the NIMH Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys (CPES) to determine if subgroups of service users exist based on their religious beliefs and practices. Subsequently, predictors of subgroup membership and their relationship to mental health service use will be tested through regression analyses. Findings will inform interventions for adaptation by health and mental health practitioners in order to improve immigrant wellbeing.

Effects of Childhood Adversities on Positive Adult Functioning across Racial Groups, and Examination of School Bonding as a Moderator

Ebasa b. sarka 2013.

Research has established that adverse experiences during childhood increase the risk of complex sets of long term detrimental effects in adulthood, including poor physical and mental health, as well as functions in multiple social domains. There is a need for a broader (discipline wise), yet focused and unified definition of childhood adversity, in order to adequately appreciate its prevalence and long term consequences. There is also a need to consider a growing evidence in studies of resilience that despite harsh childhood experiences, some achieve a healthy and successful life as adults. This study examined three questions with focus on the long term impacts of childhood adversity: (1) Does childhood adversity as measured by abuse and neglect, poor bonding with parents, poor attachment to neighborhood, family conflict, and poverty impact resilient adult functioning at age 27?; (2) Does the effect identified in question 1 vary across races? In other words, does childhood adversity predict positive adult outcomes differently across three racial groups?; and, (3) Do the experience of high/low school bonding in high school moderate the relationship of childhood adversity on resilient adult functioning? The data in use comes from the Seattle Social Development Project (SSDP), a longitudinal study in which 808 children from 18 schools in an urban area in the Pacific Northwest were followed into their adulthood, and regularly interviewed over the last 25 years. This study focuses on the experiences of African Americans (n=192), Asian Americans (n=171), and European Americans (n=374).

The structural equation modeling (SEM), and Multiple Groups SEM (MGSEM) technique was used to examine questions in this dissertation. Results of the full sample indicate that adverse childhood experience has a negative impact on resilient adult functioning at age 27. In particular, child maltreatment, poor bonding with parents, and eligibility for free lunch (a proxy for poverty) showed significantly negative impacts. Identifying as Asian American was also found to positively predict positive adult functioning. Tests of invariance in the regression paths of childhood adversity on positive adult functioning suggests an overall difference in how childhood adversity predicts adult functioning across racial groups. The differences are tied to how two predictors, specifically child abuse and neglect and poor bonding to parents more strongly predict adult functioning for European Americans. Poor bonding with parents also strongly predicted negative adult functioning for the Asian American group. However, this model did not predict any significant relationships between childhood adversity and positive adult functioning for the African American group.

Examining the moderating effect of high versus low levels of school bonding indicates a non-invariant measurement, which indicates that the measurements are not similar across high and low groups. Results of this analysis suggests that there is not much evidence that bonding to school moderates the relationship between childhood adversities and positive adult functioning as measured in this study.

Experiences of Belonging and Wellbeing

Kimberly dree hudson 2012.

Community borderlands are spaces that are shifting, polyvocal, and multidimensional; they embody, transform, and resist systems and cultures of oppression, impacting the material realities and lived lives of their occupants and visitors alike. In this dissertation, I applied a borderlands framework to learn about lived experiences in relationship to three central concepts within social work: community, belonging, and wellbeing. This project integrates elements of transnational feminism, postcolonial studies, and borderland epistemology within a queer framework, employing theoretical pluralism to interpret stories of lived lives, material realities, and perceived wellbeing. Using critical narrative and feminist methodologies, I interviewed 12 adults in the Seattle area who identified in flexible, critical, or ambiguous ways across race, gender, and sexuality; most study participants self-identified as mixed and queer. I explored articulations and intimations of liminality and belonging used by participants to make meaning of being in community and being well. Emerging from this analysis is a conceptual framework to understand belongingness in community borderlands and corresponding, contradictory experiences that enhance and detract from participants’ perceived wellbeing. Wellbeing itself, from a borderland perspective, is understood through participant positions on reclaiming “healthy bodies,” priority-setting within their communities, and critical self-reflection regarding the intentional creation of spaces and the unintentional replication of oppressive practices and discourses. This dissertation challenges the monolithic assumption that having liminal status is a source of chronic stress and social disconnection that deteriorates wellbeing. Instead, I demonstrate that borderland experiences of community may provide a sense of connectedness that actually enhances perceived and actual wellbeing through increased resources, sense of safety, and belonging. However, I also highlight the complexity, ambiguity, and discontinuities of these relationships. This study suggests the application of a borderlands framework in social work scholarship, pedagogy, and practice, namely by informing existing and potential collaborative community efforts to address disparities and promote wellbeing.

Impact on Pathways to Adulthood and Adult Criminal Outcomes

Joann s. lee 2012.

In today’s social and economic context in the U.S., many individuals experience an extended transition to adulthood period during which they are able to delay adopting adult social roles and responsibilities, such as initiating careers, making long-term commitments to a romantic partner, and starting a family. However, many individuals do not have the resources or supports that would enable them to delay adopting one or more of those roles, experiencing an accelerated transition to adulthood.  An accelerated transition can pose more challenges in the form of economic or housing hardships and may hinder the ability of individuals to accumulate additional and necessary human capital. This dissertation applies an institutional lens to the study of the transition to adulthood in order to help illuminate the role of social structures in shaping individual lives during childhood, adolescence, and the transition to adulthood, and consists of three analyses. Chapter 2 examines the experiences of a general sample of diverse, urban youth, and chapters 3 and 4 focus on foster youth aging out of care. Chapter 2 considers whether the normative socializing institutions of family and school play a role in shaping the transition to adulthood, whether extended or accelerated, and whether the individual’s bond to these institutions mediates the relationship.  Although the findings indicate that the prosocial socialization process operating in the family and school does not play a role in explaining differences in who experiences an extended or accelerated adulthood, other characteristics of the family play an important role, such as parent school expectations, a family disruption, and immigrant status. Chapter 3 examines the impact of legal system involvement on foster youth in preparation for the transition to adulthood on criminal activities during the transition to adulthood. The findings indicate that legal system involvement is associated with higher levels of criminal activities at age 21. In addition, legal system involvement initiates a process of social exclusion where youth are less likely to graduate from high school by age 19, and this has an impact on their employment status at age 21. Chapter 4 investigates the impact on arrests of extending foster care support during the transition to adulthood; the findings indicate that extended support in the first year after turning 18 reduces the risk of arrest, but this effect declines after the first year. Together, this dissertation research finds that during childhood and adolescence, as well as during the transition to adulthood, institutions play an important role in shaping the transition to adulthood.

Diasporic Intersectionalities: Exploring South Asian Women's Narratives of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender through a Community-based Performance Project

Gita rani mehrotra 2012.

Although South Asians constitute one of the largest, fastest growing Asian groups in the country, there is a paucity of U.S.-based social work literature about this community.  Further, professional social work organizations and feminist social work scholars have called for the field to build paradigms and practices that address the intersections of oppressions facing individuals and communities, such as race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class, in a global context. Drawing from intersectionality theorizing, transnational feminisms, diaspora studies, and theories of narrative identity, this study explores how a local group of South Asian women construct their experiences of race/ethnicity, gender, class, and diaspora.  Thirty-one in-depth interviews were conducted with participants of a culturally-specific, community-based performance project, Yoni Ki Baat  ( Talk of the Vagina ).  Thematic analyses, with attention to context and discourse, elucidated important similarities and differences across women’s narratives.

While all participants communicated a high sense of agency in defining themselves in terms of race/ethnicity, first and second generation women’s narratives diverged significantly in the following domains: use of racialized vs. ethnic constructs, nationality, significant life events impacting racial/ethnic identification, and ways women perceive race/ethnicity assigned to them by others. In contrast, despite differences in age, generation, religion, and other life experiences, all participants narrated the centrality of marriage as a “cultural script” that produces ideal, middle-class, South Asian womanhood. Women’s narratives illustrate some everyday ways this cultural script is communicated, enforced, and negotiated within families and communities. 

Overall, this study demonstrates the utility of narratives and cultural scripts for understanding meaning and self-making processes within diverse communities. Research findings herein also challenge traditional social work frameworks that often rely on essentialized representations of social groups, single-oppression analyses of inequality and identity, and/or U.S.-centric approaches to understanding oppression and experience.  Analyses of South Asian women’s narratives point to the need to expand intersectionality theorizing and social work education to incorporate: context; temporality, age, and lifecourse; transnational experiences; concepts of diaspora; and relationships between experiences of privilege and marginalization.  Fostering deeper understandings of intersecting oppressions and processes impacting transnational populations in these ways can contribute to more liberatory social work scholarship and practice.

Overrepresented, Underserved: The Experiences of LGBTQ Youth in Girls Detention Facilities in New York State

Sarah e. mountz 2012.

Among LGBTQ youth, queer women, transgender and gender non-conforming youth have been particularly marginalized in both social science research, social service settings, and in the community, where they are especially vulnerable to violence and significantly more likely to become involved with law enforcement. This is particularly the case for queer young women, transgender and gender non-conforming youth of color and youth or who are low-income. For my dissertation research, I have conducted an oral ethnography with young adults, ages 18-25, who have been incarcerated in girls detention facilities in the Juvenile Justice system in New York State. The study design used the principles of Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) and was facilitated by a Community Advisory Board composed of practitioners, legal advocates, researchers, activists, and young people. Life History Interviewing was used to gain insight into participants’ experiences in relation to the research questions asked. It was determined to be the most appropriate methodological tool for its capacity to dialogically elicit a narrated panorama of young people’s lives that elucidated pathways prior to and following their involvement with the Juvenile Justice system in order to identify life choices, systemic barriers, experiences of violence and harassment in detention and elsewhere, and childhood and family history and events. Moreover, Life History Interviews allowed participants to delve richly into questions of how they negotiate their sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and race in relation to various contexts, relationships, and systems, over time. Interviews were analyzed using Carol Gilligan’s Listening Guide. Findings from the study revealed themes related to identity processes, the role of family acceptance and rejection in systems involvement, pipelines and revolving doors between and amidst child welfare, educational, and juvenile justice systems, the prevalence of interpersonal and state sanctioned violence in participants lives, and participants’ tremendous capacity for resiliency and creative modes of collective and community based healing. Findings suggest profound importance of hearing LGBTQ young adults’ own stories about their lives and experiences in the juvenile justice system and beyond, the need to decriminalize young people’s survival strategies, and to challenge the use of detention facilities, and the rampant abuse of power by law enforcement towards LGBTQ young people within and outside them. This dissertation research draws upon my direct practice experience with LGBTQ youth in the child welfare system and as a queer activist.

Sexual Assault Response Teams: Exploring the Discursive Negotiation of Power, Conflict, and Legitimacy in Coordinated Service Delivery Models

Carrie a. moylan 2012.

To improve services for sexual assault victims, many communities have adopted coordinated models of service delivery, often called Sexual Assault Response Teams (SARTs).  Uniting law enforcement officers, rape crisis advocates, and health care professionals, SARTs frequently aim to create a seamless and compassionate experience for victims who engage with formal helping services.  There is some indication that the process of implementing SART is contentious.  Furthermore, replicating in practice the ideals of SART coordination has proved elusive for some communities.  This research explores the challenges of SART implementation, focusing on why there is sometimes a disconnection between the philosophy of integrated services and the realities of front-line service delivery.  Using a qualitative within-case and cross-case method, interviews with 24 SART professionals were analyzed, resulting in three studies of SART functioning.  The first study explored the discursive construction of conflict in SARTs.  Analysis identified how SART professionals discursively positioned one another in terms of authority, expertise and credibility in order to protect their own professional autonomy and to stake a claim on setting the agenda for the team’s work together.  The second study explored strategies that interviewees used to manage conflict in teams.  Four categories were identified including preventative, responsive, unobtrusive, and resignation strategies. All professions were engaged in processes of managing conflict, but advocates talked much more about strategies and were almost exclusively responsible for all discussions of unobtrusive and resignation approaches to managing conflict.  The final study draws on institutional theory to explore how external forces shaped the adoption and operation of SARTs.  The analysis revealed two simultaneous processes.  The first process illustrated how SART was discursively legitimized, starting with the framing of sexual assault service delivery as a moral imperative for communities and continuing with the identification of coordination as a means of meeting the moral imperative.  Concurrently, a process of decoupling is indicated by the continuing resistance both to the moral imperative and the logic of coordination, as well as by the inconsistent and incomplete implementation of SART.   Implications for SART practice and future research are also discussed.

Community Coalitions: Resolving the Gap between Research & Practice for the Prevention of Youth Mental, Emotional, & Behavioral Problems

Valerie b. shapiro 2012.

Tested and effective approaches are available to prevent mental, emotional, and behavioral problems in youth, but they are underutilized. Communities That Care (CTC) is a coalition-based strategy that creates a local infrastructure for prevention service delivery that facilitates the community-wide adoption of a scientific approach to preventing these problems. A community-randomized trial of CTC in 24 communities, matched in pairs and randomly assigned to a control or an intervention condition, has demonstrated that CTC significantly increases the community-wide adoption of a science-based approach to prevention, as reported by community leaders. For this dissertation, I first examined the extent to which the effect of CTC on the adoption of a community-wide scientific approach to prevention varied significantly across matched community pairs. Results indicated significant and substantial variation in the effect of CTC on the adoption of a scientific approach to prevention across the 12 community pairs. Next I explored potential sources of the variation across community pairs in community transformation toward a scientific approach to prevention. These sources included five coalition capacities: member knowledge, member acquisition of new skills, member attitudes, organizational linkages, and influence on organizations.  Findings indicated that CTC coalitions successfully built capacities.  Results also showed that new skill acquisition by coalition members and the engagement of diverse sectors in coalition work, as reported by coalition members, moderated the relationship between CTC and the community-wide adoption of a science-based approach to prevention. Finally, I explored whether the internal coalition functioning of CTC coalitions predicted community-wide adoption of a science-based approach to prevention directly or through a coalition culture that builds capacities necessary for coalitions to achieve system transformation. Findings indicate no direct effect of goal-directedness, efficiency, opportunities for participation, or cohesion on community-wide adoption of a science-based approach to prevention, but suggest the possibility of an indirect pathway through building new member skills and external linkages to diverse sectors. Identification of these malleable coalition processes and capacities, which facilitate the community-wide adoption of a scientific approach to prevention, will be useful for improving the overall effectiveness of community coalitions focused on preventing adolescent mental, emotional, and behavioral problems.

Political Violence, Trauma, and Resilience

Cynthia sousa 2012.

In recent decades, there has been an expanded effort to examine the adverse effects of political violence on the health of civilian populations; substantial evidence now points to the effects of political violence on outcomes like PTSD, anxiety, and a variety of physical health symptoms. Despite the variety of risks inherent within political violence, we know individuals and communities actively cope with the stressors of political violence, exhibiting marked resilience as they function much better than might be expected. Individual and community resilience is generally defined as the successful recovery from or adaptation to stress or adversity through the use of individual or community characteristics, resources, strategies, and processes. While researchers have increasingly focused on political violence in the past few decades, several areas within the field of political violence and global health remain under-explored. To address these areas, this dissertation explores experiences inherent within the political violence, their effects on health and well-being, and processes of resilience within the experience of political violence. Each paper within this dissertation sheds light on one shared question: How does political violence affect people’s health and how do people and communities endure the stress and trauma it poses? The papers within this dissertation employ distinct guiding questions and associated research methods to: (1) provide an interdisciplinary overview of resilience to clarify what we currently know from scholarly literature about how individuals and communities weather the effects of political violence; (2) explore how political violence affects a variety of health outcomes (including general health, PTSD and distress) and examine how these health effects of political violence might differ along various sources of coping, ranging from self-reliance to use of support from one’s family and from religious and political resources; and (3) examine how women describe the specific, particular experiences they endure within political violence and their strategies of resistance within that context.

A Life Course Perspective on the Social Determinants of Multiracial American Health

Karen tabb dina 2012.

Few studies provide data on the health of self-identified multiracial (two or more races) Americans. Subsequently, we know little about this population and existing health disparities. Three areas relevant to multiracial health include health status, health care service utilization, and health related to racial stability over the life course. Although some investigations report the health service use of children and adolescents, almost no studies report the health service use of multiracial young adults. Most studies on multiracial groups are cross-sectional and thus focus on a single time point, so it is difficult to establish how health indicators change for multiracial groups over time. This dissertation employs epidemiological methods to investigate the health of self-identified multiracial young adults in a series of three linked papers. I used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N = 20,774) in-home sample taken during the period 1994-2008 to examine factors related to multiracial health as individuals enter difference phases of life. Using multivariate logistic regression I tested a series of hypotheses for three distinct research questions. In the first paper, I found that there are differences in self-rated health for some multiracial groups.  In the second paper, I found that there are differences in the rates of health care service utilization when comparing specific multiracial groups to the monoracial majority. In the third paper, I found that there are differences in report of self-rated health when comparing monoracial adults with multiracial adults who switch racial categories over time. These findings contribute to the wider understanding of health disparities for vulnerable populations and assist in identifying salient mechanisms of health disparities over the life course. These results also demonstrate the importance of critically examining changes in categories over time and effects when using quantitative data.

Where is “Home?” Interpreting Horn of Africa Youth Discourse and the Politics of “Displaced Youth”

Aster solomon tecle 2012.

This dissertation is a discursive inquiry into the language Horn of Africa (HOA) youth use as they talk about their experiences. Study participants are 1.5 and second generation HOA youth, mainly from Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia, living in the Pacific Northwest and actively participating in youth programs provided by three agencies serving HOA immigrant populations. Youth in the study participated in three focus groups. Employing postcolonial and poststructuralist frameworks, the study aims to reveal the function of language in representing HOA youth: it assumes language to be a “site of contestation” where youth position and reposition their claims as they characterize themselves and their experiences. The study’s thematic findings highlight three aspects of HOA youth experience: their strategic use of the language of difference; the hybridity of their experiences and aesthetics; and their use of this inbetweeness as a space of possibility. The study captures the nuances of HOA youth discourse, moving beyond dichotomous frameworks to more fully acknowledge the complexities for immigrant youth of negotiating inbetween spaces. These complexities reveal that HOA youth can and do displace discourses that represent them. Revealing the complexities of HOA youth language also has the potential to dismantle underlying paradigms that take-for- granted the politics of “displaced youth.” The study potentially contributes to social work methodology, theory, and practice, and to youth programming.

The study findings challenge theoretical and conceptual frameworks that assume HOA youth have a stable, rational, and unified identity, and assume related ideas about empowerment and change, which can ultimately victimize youth for not fitting into expected norms. From the perspective of this study, liberation from dominant discourses does not require a stable identity; rather, identities are continuously and complexly produced in and through competing discourses. The research points to the need for youth programs to focus on exploring how cultures and languages represent youth, and their populations, while also questioning what it means to talk across borders, as the youth move beyond conventional discourses of multiculturalism. The study also has the potential to inform host society perceptions of HOA youth in particular and African immigrants in general.

Courts, Child Welfare, and Criteria for Terminating Parental Rights

William michael vesneski 2012.

Few legal proceedings in the U.S. have more significant consequences for families than the termination of parental rights. Previously described as family law’s “death penalty,” termination leads to the complete severance of the parent-child bond. Yet, despite its profound consequences, termination is infrequently addressed in social work scholarship. This dissertation aims to help fill this gap by examining North Carolina judicial opinions, written in 2010, that resolved disputed actions to terminate parental rights.  A total of 100 opinions were examined using content analysis. All of the cases involved child neglect. The study focused on neglect because of ongoing difficulty in clearly defining this common form of child maltreatment. A large majority (n=86) of the cases resulted in the termination of parental rights. The study yielded a typology of factors appellate courts used to justify their termination decisions. Altogether, 39 factors were identified and organized into 10 different domains: parental conditions, service compliance, home environment, economic conditions, child conditions, bonding, child welfare history, physical abuse, physical presence, and sexual abuse. These factors are more expansive than the termination criteria listed in the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act as well as North Carolina statutes. Just as important, chi-squared analyses revealed that when courts made their termination decision, they looked to different factors depending upon which parents were involved in the cases (mothers, fathers, or both parents).

Two domains were selected for closer examination using discourse analytics: “service compliance” and “economic conditions.” The goal of this examination was to understand the ideology and social values underlying the rulings. The results indicate that the courts placed significant importance on parents’ compliance with case plans when deciding whether to terminate their rights. At the same time, the courts were very concerned with parents’ poverty and their surrounding economic circumstances. Overall, the study underscores the critically important role the courts play in the child welfare system. Not only do courts safeguard parents’ rights during termination proceedings, they are actively involved in creating child welfare policy and setting the parameters of social work practice in the field.

Same-Sex Partnerships and the Health of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Older Adults

Mark edward williams 2012.

While extensive research has examined associations between marriage, cohabitation and the health of heterosexual adults, it remains unclear whether similar patterns of health are associated with the same-sex partnerships for older adults. The following papers examine how having a same-sex partner may be related to general self-reported health, mental health, and satisfaction with life for older adults. Analyzing survey data collected from lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) adults 50 years of age and older, the first paper reports findings that those with same-sex partners have significantly better self-reported health, fewer depressive symptoms, less perceived stress, and greater life satisfaction, controlling for gender, age, education, income, sexuality, and relationship duration. Relationship duration did not significantly impact the association between partnership status and health, nor did gender. The importance of culturally sensitive clinical practice and policies that recognize the role that same-sex partnerships may play in older adult health are discussed along with implications for future research. The second paper further examines how identifying as married is associated with significantly fewer depressive symptoms and greater life satisfaction compared to those identifying as unmarried partners, but not significantly less perceived stress. Social integration, as reflected in increasing access to and identification with marriage by LGB older adults, is an important area for future research to examine in order to study how changing social acceptance of sexual minorities may impact older adult health. The final paper reviews the theoretical frameworks that have been employed to study lesbian, gay, and bisexual older adult health.  Social determinants of health models are contrasted with social constructionist and post-structural critiques of gender, sexuality, age and health.  Future research needs to envision both structural sources of health disparities as well as account for individual agency and the resilient subject as important elements for theorizing the source and meaning of health disparities for lesbian, gay and bisexual older adults.

Heterogeneity among Youth at Risk for Violence: Implications of a Stress and Coping Framework for Prevention

Patricia logan-greene 2011.

This dissertation uses a stress and coping resource framework to examine heterogeneity among adolescents and young adults at risk for violence. Three studies are included that build on existing literature concerning risk and protective factors for violence by consideration of etiological differences that bear upon stress exposures and coping capacity. Participants were recruited from high schools on the basis of risk for drop-out and suicide behaviors (Mean age = 16.0), which resulted in an ethnically diverse, gender-balanced sample. Additional surveys were delivered 5 and 7 years later with satisfactory retention. Paper 1: Latent Profile Analysis was used to detect four distinct groups with differential risk and protective factor profiles and concomitant problem behavior outcomes, demonstrating important differences for etiological risk of violent behaviors. Paper 2: The sustained impact of adolescent violence histories was established relative to early adulthood psychosocial functioning, across multiple dimensions of risky behaviors and emotional distress. Paper 3: An assessment of stress and coping resources in early adulthood successfully predicted continuity and discontinuity in violent behaviors from adolescence to young adulthood. Collectively these findings demonstrate the importance of investigating variation among violent youth with respect to stress-related risk, protective factors, and ways in which coping affects development—distinctions that are crucial to insuring interventions are well matched and proportionate to respective risk profiles among youth. Results strongly bolster arguments concerning the value of preventive and early interventions toward curbing the developmental and transgenerational impacts of violence. Major implications include the need to assess for histories of violence among vulnerable youth, as well as attend to traumatic experiences and emotional distress of youth engaging in violence.

Predictors Associated with Late-Life Depressive Symptoms among Older Black Americans

Gillian L. Marshall 2011

With the projected growth of a diverse older adult population in the U.S., their mental health status is of increasing concern.  It is a concern since little is known about what places them at risk and what factors protect them against late-life depression. The primary aim  of this dissertation is to address  this concern by examining the risk and protective factors associated with depressive symptoms between older black Americans.  Data analyzed for all three studies used the National Survey of American Life.  The study sample consisted of older persons age 55 years and older who self identified as either African American (N=837) or Caribbean Black (N=271).  Results indicate that socio-economic status was significant in predicting high depressive symptoms, especially for older African Americans.  Results also highlight the fact that greater depressive symptoms are associated with stress in the form of perceived discrimination which poses a risk for late-life depression among both groups of older Black Americans. In addition, both social support and social connectedness were significant in moderating the effect of stress for both older African Americans and Caribbean blacks.  The findings from this study will contribute to the general body of knowledge on black Americans, and more specifically, to the heterogeneity embedded between and within older African Americans and Caribbean Black populations.

Bark Made Rope, Roots Made Baskets

Ramona beltran 2010.

Background: Over the last several decades space and place have emerged as important concepts and how they are theorized is beginning to shape many policies and practices that impact the health of indigenous peoples. For indigenous peoples, the ultimate location of space and place is embedded in a profound relationship with the earth.  The earth (or land) is both literally and figuratively the first and final teacher for understanding our world, communities, families, selves, and bodies. This dissertation articulates an indigenous framework for triangulating the concepts of space and place, historical trauma, and embodiment as they impact health and wellness of indigenous peoples. Methods: Innovative qualitative methods including narrative analysis of in-depth interviews about traditional and contemporary perceived experiences between land and health from 13 tribal members of a Washington reservation was conducted along with a GPS and photographic survey of food and activity resources on tribal lands. Data points were mapped onto an interactive web-based map and used to illustrate and deepen individual narratives. Poetic narrative was also woven throughout the dissertation to evoke a fourth analytical space referred to as “differential consciousness” which transcends the bounds of academic words and ideas. Results: Qualitative analysis revealed an overall ambivalence including a simultaneous profound love, care, and loss of original tribal land/health relationships. Thematic findings were organized into eight primary categories with more nuanced sub-themes articulated within each category. The over-arching themes for how Tulalip tribal members experience the relationship between land and health include: 1) Simultaneous reverence and loss; 2) Close kinship relationship; 3) Respect and reciprocity; 4) Dissonance of historical trauma and cultural strength; 5) Impact of development and western values; 6) Cultural transitions and losses; 7) Contemporary practices and realities and; 8) Cultural revival and regeneration.  Photographs and map illustrate these themes. Conclusions: Using personal narratives to investigate complex environmental conditions helps describe how relationships to historical and contemporary cultural knowledge impacts the health of indigenous community members.

From Healthy to Unhealthy: Disaggregating the Relationship between Race, Nativity, Perceived Discrimination, and Chronic Health

Shauna k. carlisle 2010.

There is a clear association between race and health outcomes in the United States.  Needed is a systematic examination of the relationship between chronic health and race, ethnicity, nativity, and length of residency. Further, the role of perceived discrimination and health decline must be explored beyond broad racial categories with the inclusion of Caribbean ethnic subgroups. Utilizing the linked data from the Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys (CPES), this dissertation addresses the gap in literature by examining differences in reports of chronic cardiovascular, chronic respiratory, and chronic pain conditions across three samples of Asian American (n=1,628), Latino Americans (n=1,940), and Afro-Caribbean American (n=978) respondents. Chapter 2 examines the ethnic subgroup variation in chronic health by comparing self-reports of chronic conditions across diverse subgroups of Asian American (Vietnamese, Filipino, Chinese), Latino American (Cuban, Portuguese, Mexican), and Afro-Caribbean (Haitian, Jamaican, Trinidadian/Tobagonian) respondents.  Chi square analysis reveals significant differences by race for chronic cardiovascular [c2 (2, n=4969) 16.77, p<.0000], respiratory [c2 (2, n=4975) 10.23, p<.0001], and pain conditions [c2 (2, n=4973) .22, p>.8].  Logistic regression revealed significant differences in reports of chronic conditions across nine ethnic subgroups.  Chapter 3 examines the nativity differences in reports of chronic cardiovascular, respiratory, and pain conditions between foreign-born (n=3,579) and native-born (n=1,409) respondents.  Results reveal that native-born respondents were significantly more likely to report chronic respiratory [c2(1, n=4958) 30.78, p≤.05] and pain [c2(1, n-4958) 3.77, p≤.05] conditions than were their foreign-born counterparts.  Logistic regression models reveal significant associations between chronic conditions, and other demographic factors known to influence immigrant health.  Chapter 4 explores the relationship between chronic conditions, nativity, perceived discrimination, and length of residency among the three racial and nine ethnic subgroups.  Afro-Caribbean subgroups were more likely to report perceived discrimination than Asian and Latino American subgroups were.  However, a significant positive association with perceived discrimination was found only for Latino American respondents (b=.60; P≤.01).  An interaction term called “exposure” was created to estimate the effects of long-term exposure to perceived discrimination among foreign-born respondents in this study. Logistic regression analysis was conducted to determine which groups within the model were more likely to report exposure effects.

Participatory Action Research in a Prison Nursery

Marie-celeste condon 2010.

Incarcerated mothers and their babies are invisible to most of us.  Little is known about the discourses surrounding women who give birth and begin raising their babies while doing time in prison.  I conducted a two year, exploratory, qualitative study of babies’ experiences in the Residential Parenting Program in Washington Corrections Center for Women, using Participatory Action Research (PAR).  I present just one aspect of our work, namely operationalizing PAR concepts with prisoners, officers, early childhood educators, nurse practitioners, birth attendants, and community members.  These stakeholders hold divergent views about incarcerated women and their newborns.  They rarely if ever come to the same table to talk and learn from one another.  Stereotyped identities, differences in power, privilege and autonomy, and the divergent missions of their organizations present real challenges to linking research and action on behalf of babies.  PAR literature raises questions about the extent to which PAR philosophy can be truly carried out in prisons, when participation is not limited to one or two groups of allied stakeholders.  I explain challenges.  I present evidence supporting and contraindicating PAR in settings that mandate limited autonomy and agency for women.  I present strategies that led to the emergence of a common discourse.  I offer recommendations for future work.

Investigating the Social Context of Immigration-Related Factors and Asian American Health

Aileen a. duldulao 2010.

This dissertation examines the social context of immigration-related factors as they relate to the health of Asian American immigrants and focuses specifically on age at migration and period of migration as potential explanatory contexts for elucidating the strong relationship between immigration and health.  In the first paper, an historical, social, political and theoretical framework is outlined that argues for the use of expanded contexts when empirically examining Asian American health.  This paper provides recommendations as to how such contexts can be brought to bear on Asian American health, such as using model specification techniques used in research on racial health disparities.  The second paper is an empirical test of historical context as a way to frame the relationship between Asian American self-rated mental health, age at migration and the historical period of migration.  Specifically, this paper tests the applicability of age at migration as a predictor for self-rated mental health between pre- and post-1965 immigrations using model specific path analyses.    The third paper also builds on analytical recommendations set forth in the first paper and provides an empirical test of the relationship between suicidal ideation, ethnic density and historical period of migration using multilevel modeling techniques.   In its entirety, this dissertation argues for and provides a more holistic, nuanced approach to examining and explaining the relationship between immigration-related factors and Asian American health.

Maltreated, Displaced, and Under-Served Foster Youth: Predictors of Developmental Outcomes among Racially Diverse Foster Care Alumni

Antonio r. garcia 2010.

Child welfare practitioners and researchers’ are faced with the daunting challenge of ensuring children in foster care successfully transition into adulthood. In fact, for many of the youth who experienced prior history of chronic abuse and placement instability, the likelihood of experiencing negative mental health, employment, and education outcomes increase. Due to the fact that research focusing on the experiences of foster care alumni of color is limited, existing interventions to address their negative developmental outcomes may not be effective. The Latino Child Welfare Research and Practice (LCWRP) Model (Garcia, 2009) provided a conceptual framework to aid in identifying areas that warrant further attention for this study. Incorporating the individual/social and institutional domains of the model and utilizing data from the Casey National Foster Care Alumni study, this study addressed the following primary questions: 1) Does chronicity of child maltreatment and cumulative familial risk factors impact foster care alumni’s mental health outcomes, and if so, are they moderated by race/ethnicity? 2) Do positive coping mechanisms (high self-esteem and ethnic identity) mediate the relationship between individual stressors during childhood (chronic abuse, cumulative risk factors, and placement instability) and being diagnosed with a mental health disorder during adulthood? 3) Controlling for placement instability, does access to services and agency preparation for leaving foster care uniquely predict developmental outcomes among Latino, Caucasian, and African American foster care alumni? Finally, this dissertation study, from the perspective of front line caseworkers, also examined barriers and challenges Latino children and families experience in the child welfare system. Relying on mixed methods (logistic regression, multiple group structural equation modeling, and grounded theory) to address these questions, this dissertation study offers valuable contributions by: 1) examining unique predictors of developmental outcomes among foster care alumni of color, 2) highlighting strengths and areas where improvement in child welfare practice is needed to ensure foster care children and adolescents receive evidence based, culturally sensitive services to thrive as adults, and 3) exploring factors that may mitigate negative developmental outcomes and contribute to timely permanency and reunification among Latinos in the child welfare system.

Impediments to Facility Delivery among HIV Positive Women in a Kenyan Setting: Insights from Women’s Accounts and the Service Delivery Context

Peris w. kibera 2010.

In sub-Saharan Africa, where over 85% of pregnancies among HIV positive women occur, many countries report low rates of uptake of the widely available and virtually free services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT), such as facility delivery and infant prophylactic antiretroviral drugs. A small but growing body of scholarship that has examined the reasons why women might fail to take advantage of PMTCT services has primarily documented structural and resource factors such as long distance or inability to pay for transportation to a health care facility as key barriers to service uptake. The influence of service delivery dynamics (for example, the nature of provider-patient interactions and the quality of counseling) demonstrated in other health literatures to be salient in service utilization is a perspective that is largely ignored in the assessment of PMTCT service use.

Thus, to understand the influence of service delivery dynamics on women’s uptake of PMTCT services, this study utilized ethnographic methods to examine how i) the bureaucratic organization of services, ii) patients? experience of the care environment, iii) patient-provider relations, and iv) providers’ experience of their work affected facility delivery among HIV-positive women attending Mathare North Health Center, a community health facility in Nairobi, Kenya.

Findings revealed that guarding against inadvertent disclosure of HIV positive status to a partner or relations accompanying a woman to the facility during childbirth was an important motivation for participants’ non-delivery at Mathare or other public sector health care facilities. In understanding how the inadvertent disclosure of a woman’s HIV status could occur during childbirth at Mathare, Michael Lipsky’s (1980) theory of street-level bureaucracy provided an analytical point of departure. Specifically, several patterns of practice elucidated by Lipsky were mapped out in ANC service delivery with pregnant HIV positive women. Because of the work practices that providers at Mathare adopted to cope with the mismatch between limited resources in the work environment and patients’ needs, women did not receive the care necessary to support childbirth at the health center. Insights from this research offer useful directions for modifying care practices to boost facility delivery among HIV positive women.

Is Knowledge Power? A Comparative Textual, Historical, and Practical Study of "Sex Ed" Policy and "Teen Pregnancy" in Canada and the U.S.A.

Morna e. mceachern 2010.

In modern welfare states, teen pregnancy, a social phenomenon that is inextricably linked with poverty, inequality, and race, is considered an indicator of social wellbeing. The teen pregnancy rate in the U.S.A. is the highest of modern welfare states, more than twice that of Canada, its culturally similar neighbor. There is evidence that comparative studies of culturally similar countries can reveal factors that are useful in informing policy reform. Sexual activity is a precursor of teen pregnancy, and public schools are a dominant site for sexual health education in both countries.  Yet no studies have compared the “sex ed” policy approaches of these two countries. Addressing this gap, this study compares sexual health education policy exemplars from Canada and the U.S.A., focusing on the language in which these policies are framed with three research questions: 1) What does the political symbolism in the language of two policy exemplars reflect, implicitly and explicitly, about Canadian and U.S. approaches to  “sex ed”? 2) How do Canadian and U.S. “sex ed” policies and discourses about “teen pregnancy” converge and diverge over time? 3) How do Canadian and U.S. high school principals, as front-line policy implementers, describe “teen pregnancy” and its relationship to “sex ed”?  What does the political symbolism of their discourse reveal about Canadian and U.S. “sex ed” policy practices? In order to support pregnant and parenting teens, this dissertation addresses these questions through a critical feminist epistemology and a comparative, historical, qualitative and interpretive methodology. The contributions of the study fall in three areas: 1) it breaks new ground in comparing sexual health education policies in the U.S.A. and Canada; 2) it shifts the focus from individual outcomes of teen pregnancy to policy and policy frames related to preventing unintended teen pregnancy; 3) in so doing, it potentially sheds light on factors that differentially influence the discourse about “sex ed” and “teen pregnancy” in the two countries.

Queering Queer Space

Jennifer m. self 2010.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (lgbtq) college centers emerged in the early 1970s in response to student, faculty, and staff activism and demands for safe and protective spaces from heterosexism and homophobia.  Despite 40 years of practice, however, little research has been conducted about these spaces.  Recognizing the importance of lgbtq campus centers and the political and identity struggles within the movement that created them; this dissertation addressed this gap in research knowledge.  Specifically, the study aimed to: 1) interrogate the power and influence of the leadership of lgbtq centers (directors and other primary leaders) via the exploration of the ways in which dominance in the form of “homonormative whiteness” is interrupted, disrupted, resisted, and (re)produced discursively and spatially through lgbtq campus-based centers; and 2) examine tensions that arised as directors and programs operationalize social transformation praxis models while maintaining their core purpose of safety and respite from heterosexism and homophobia.  To explore these issues, I undertook a modified extended case study of six campus centers.  The case study data included in-depth interviews with directors and center leaders, researcher observations, photographs, and hand-drawn maps produced by center leaders. The methodological approach was broadly critical and interpretive: specific analytic strategies included critical discourse analysis (spatial and dialogic). By examining the role of lgbtq center leadership discourse and center space in the (re)production and resistance of homonormative whiteness, this study contributes to several bodies of literature:  1) center development and practice; 2) intersectionality and praxis within student and community centers; and 3) social justice within higher education.

Examining the Process of Critical Youth Participation in Promoting Health and Wellness:  A Case Study of a Rural Community Program for Asian Pacific Islander Young Adults

Alma m.o. trinidad 2010.

Despite research on health disparities among low-income young adults of color, few studies critically examine how grass-roots, community-based youth programs affect their individual and collective health and wellness.  In particular, little is known about how they develop a critical awareness of the historical-cultural contexts of marginalization and whether such awareness leads them to become activists in promoting health and wellness.  Furthermore, a gap exist in research on the participation of rural young adults in community life and the role they can play in educating, and promoting empowerment in their communities.  To address these gaps, this dissertation bridges theories of community youth participation, critical pedagogies of place, and community epistemology.  Using a community-based youth program in rural Hawai‘i as a case study with 17 interviews and content analysis of texts about the program, this dissertation consists of three articles.  The first examines the program’s use of adult allies and youth participation in farming, while also helping improve community health and well-being.  Findings suggest that the program utilizes an integrated approach that includes:  1) locating the role of adult allies, 2) perceiving young people as partners and agents of change, 3) aiming for a democratic decision-making process, and 4) promoting a learning community.  The second examines how the program through critical Indigenous pedagogy of place (CIPP) encourages youth to interrogate the inequities in their community, thus assisting in their sociopolitical development.  Findings indicate that the use of CIPP provides opportunities to: 1) identify the disparities in the local community, 2) critically explore the complexity of oppression and systemic inequalities, 3) promote a commitment to serve that community and a sense of place, and 4) participate in a knowledge-action-reflection cycle of critical praxis.  The third article examines how the program utilizes Native Hawaiian epistemology and values.  Findings indicate that the program promotes indigenization through CIPP, which provides opportunities to:  1) learn about the genealogy of a geographic place, 2) reclaim Native Hawaiian values and 3) promote a sense of  aloha (love)  ethic for the community.  Acknowledging the study’s limitations, specific recommendations and implications on youth community organizing, place, and health are discussed.

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Critiquing the presence and absence of children and young people's participation in policies for looked after children in scotland , interrogating the ethics of telecare services: a conceptual framework for dementia home care professionals , forever home the complexity of adoption breakdown in scotland , exploring experiences of children who migrate to delhi: understanding gender and space , looking after grandchildren: the motivation, pattern, and the impact of intergenerational engagements on grandparents in rural china , topping up the tank: enhancing the emotional resilience of social workers in local authority adult services , intergenerational transmission of the effects of maternal childhood adversities via poor infant outcomes , contributing to the development of social pedagogy in the uk: a case study at 'santiago 1' residential care home in spain , helping the 'problem child' become loveable again a discourse analysis on childhood adhd in switzerland and implications for social work , health needs and services for refugee women and children in uganda’s settlements: articulating a role for social work , unpicking social work practice skills: an interactional analysis of engagement and identity in a groupwork programme addressing sexual offending , turkish fathering today: an enquiry and discussion arising from the views of turkish fathers and turkish young people , twenty first century contact: young people in care and their use of mobile communication devices and the internet for contact , quickening steps: an ethnography of pre-birth child protection , low income employment in dhaka: women’s lives, agency and identity , partnership, power and policy: a case study of the scottish partnership on domestic abuse , feedback systems, interaction analysis, and counselling models in professional programmes , the participation of looked after children in permanency planning , everyday social work practice: listening to the voices of practitioners , quality of life experiences of parents of children with autism in scotland .

phd dissertation topics in social work

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See the Academic Calendar for policies regarding:

  • Regulations and procedures governing the doctoral dissertation.
  • Doctoral dissertation guidelines.
  • Thesis style and format guidelines.
  • Submission of approved master's thesis or doctoral dissertation for binding.

Approval of the Dissertation Advisory Committee

Preliminary Consultation

The comprehensive requirement must be successfully completed before a dissertation topic is approved. However, it is advisable to begin discussing the research topic, even before completing the comprehensive requirement, with anyone whose consultation and advice is thought to be helpful, and to be refining the focus of the dissertation.

Dissertation Advisory Committee

Each Dissertation Advisory Committee (DAC) must consist of 2 members from the student’s home program, and a maximum of 4 members in total, with no more than 1 member acting as a co-advisor. The committee membership is comprised as follows:

  • A Dissertation Advisor (DA), who is a Regular Member of the Graduate Faculty of the university and is a full-time faculty member in the academic unit/program of the candidate. The Advisor is principally responsible for mentoring the student’s progress to completion (research, course selection, professional development). (Advisor – see Table below) 
  • One who is a Regular Member of the Graduate Faculty of the university and a full-time faculty member in the WLU academic unit/program of the candidate (DAC Member 2 – see Table below), and 
  • One who is either a Regular Member of the Graduate Faculty of the university from any program, or a faculty member elsewhere who meets the same requirements (DAC Member 3 – see Table below). Both DAC Member 2 and Member 3 provide feedback, and participate actively in the dissertation progression of the student 
  • A fourth member is optional, and may be an academic or professional outside the university with appropriate expertise (DAC Member 4 – see Table below). This 4th DAC member must hold Associated or Special Membership on the Graduate Faculty at WLU.

For candidates in a joint program, committee members who are full-time faculty members in the joint program at the partner institution and who are Associated Members of the Graduate Faculty at Wilfrid Laurier University may serve as DAC Member 3 and as co-advisor.

The DAC may participate in the comprehensive/qualifying exam (or equivalent), based on program norms.

After the candidate has completed the requirements for the comprehensive paper, the student establishes their Dissertation Advisory Committee ( see Graduate Calendar ). If the Comprehensive Examination Committee transitions to the DAC, the student completes the PhD Dissertation Advisory Committee Formation form .

If there are changes in the advisor and/or members when created the DAC, the student is to submit the following to the Associate Dean, PhD Program:

  • The names of the proposed committee members, indicating who is the new member.
  • A brief rationale identifying the expertise that new person(s) brings to the committee, and the relevance of the composition of the committee as a whole to the student’s topic.
  • If a proposed member is not a member of the graduate faculty, an electronic file of that member’s CV should be included.

If needed, the Associate Dean takes this information to the PhD Admissions, Curriculum and Student Affairs Committee for approval. Once the DAC has been approved, the student should complete the  PhD Dissertation Advisory Committee Formation form , and submit it to the associate dean who sends it to the dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for approval.

FSW Dissertation Proposal Guidelines

Be sure to consult the Graduate Calendar’s requirements for doctoral dissertations.

Students are engaged in advanced research that reflects social work values, addresses important issues, promotes new understandings and knowledge, and informs social work theory, practice, education and policy.

From the Graduate Calendar

As seen in the quotation above, a primary goal of the dissertation research is to develop new understandings and knowledge of a topic. This goal is achieved in the context of what is known in the literature and existing issues or gaps or new ways of approaching the topic. The comprehensive papers provide an opportunity for students to familiarize themselves with the literature and theoretical approaches relevant to their substantive area of study; the dissertation builds on those papers. As also reflected in the quotation, social work research aligns with social work values and aims to inform theory, practice, education, and policy. In achieving their goals, students are expected to propose studies that are grounded in and guided by relevant theories and utilize robust methods.

Funding: Faculty of Social Work doctoral students can apply for funding from the program for their dissertation research.

Type of Dissertation: Traditional or Multiple Manuscript

Doctoral students have the option of preparing a traditional dissertation or a multiple manuscript dissertation. The Graduate Calendar provides the following descriptions of each option.

Traditional dissertation

[the] work is understood to be a structurally unified body of work, with each part contributing to the development of a coherent whole, with an overarching research question/concern that is developed through a succession of chapters or sections (though this does not necessarily mean parts might not be excerpted for publication). The guiding principle here is that the manuscript most closely resembles a book.

Multiple manuscript

the dissertation is a coherent body of work; however, the apparatus of the dissertation will normally include, among its other elements, three articles suitable for publication in peerreviewed journals, and these articles derive from the findings, methods and/or literature review sections of the dissertation. … The two or three articles are meant to be component parts of a much larger work that fulfills the conditions of a traditional dissertation, including an  overarching research question, thesis, methodology, literature review, and appropriate theoretical contexts and approaches.

As per the Graduate Calendar, this option also involves

an introductory chapter to the entire thesis and a final chapter (general discussion [of the contributions the overall work makes] and conclusions) to relate the separate studies to each other and to a relevant discipline or field of study.

Students completing the multiple manuscript option should work closely with their advisor to identify the aims and questions that will be addressed in each manuscript. It is not necessary for each manuscript to report findings from the collected data, because a manuscript may also be solely theoretical or methodological in nature, depending on the research study. Regardless of nature of each manuscript, each manuscript should address specific aims, be structured in the format of published scholarly journal article, and offer new insights and understandings to the scholarly literature in which it is embedded. Students pursuing the multiple manuscript option are not expected to submit their manuscripts to journals for review/publication as they write their dissertation articles/chapters. Those who wish to do so should consult their advisor. It is possible that the page/word limits of an intended journal might be limiting and prevent the student from conveying sufficient information and analysis that one would expect to see in a dissertation article/chapter.

Please see the Graduate Calendar for additional information about each option, including their components.

The dissertation proposal is to specify which option the student intends to undertake. If planning a multiple manuscription dissertation, the focus/research questions addressed in each manuscript are to be specified in the proposal. If using multiple data sources, it might be necessary to specify the data source for each manuscript.

The Proposal

Students can construct their dissertation research to involve non-Western epistemologies, arts-based, or other creative approaches, among others. What is outlined below are the various components that typically are included in a dissertation proposal. Though these general components should be included, the presentation and approach to the dissertation might look different depending on how the student and the DAC wish to approach the research. Feel free to modify language to suit your approach. For instance, concepts such as ‘protocol’ and ‘methods’ might be replaced by ‘story gathering’ or other language consistent with the selected research framework.

Components and Formatting of the Proposal

Each of the following parts are suggested components of both the traditional and multiple manuscript dissertation proposal. They are numbered for convenience. Suggested page lengths are included for each section, and these can be adjusted in consultation with your supervisor and DAC. The dissertation should follow APA standards in terms of citation practices, writing, and formatting, including for headings and references. The proposal should be double-spaced and in a 12-point font and be approximately between 17 and 20 pages in length, excluding the title page, references, appendices, and any tables or figures.

The proposal title should give a clear indication of the topic being studied.

2. Introduction (1.5 pages)

Provide a brief introduction to the problem/issue leading to the study. This should include connecting the problem/issue to the larger literature, identifying issues or gaps, as well as noting the significance of the problem/issue to social work. The introduction should provide a roadmap to the proposal and state the overall research aim, primary research questions, and mention the proposed methodological design.

3. Researcher Positionality (1.0-2.0 pages)

Describe your connection to the topic and your positionality/worldview in relation to the proposed study. Describe your epistemology or research paradigm guiding the study. Identify any specific implications your positionality and epistemological approach has for the study design. These implications could involve broader ethical considerations beyond procedural ethics related to REB requirements for the ethical conduct of research. Depending on the paradigm adopted, considerations might include principles and measures which support relational accountability, and responsible and respectful engagement with participants and the broader community, including knowledge holders. Examples of this can include community consultations and advisory meetings, engagement with elder knowledge keepers, partnering with community, and working with participants as co-researchers.

4. Literature Review (3.0-3.5 pages)

This section should provide a brief review of the literature on the topic, establish the need for the study, and help to frame the approach to the questions that will be examined in the study.

In some instances, this section might include relevant information about the context (e.g., prevalence of events, common explanations of events, historical evolution, policies, service delivery networks, organizations, program models, theoretical and/or epistemological approaches) of the topic. Such points should be very brief as the primary focus of this section is to review the literature and establish the need for the study as a project that advances understanding and knowledge.

The literature review should be a brief summary (potentially drawn from the literature review comprehensive paper) of existing research/knowledge in the field along with areas or approaches that are unexplored and that your own study will address. This section should be written to frame the proposed research aim and questions, and effectively demonstrate the need for the proposed study. You can briefly articulate its potential benefits for social work practice, policy, and/or other applications.

5. Theoretical Framework (3.0-3.5 pages)

This section presents the study’s guiding theoretical framework, which is based on an analysis and integration of the appropriate literature, research, and theories. It might also highlight the praxis in which your theoretical framework enables you to engage in research which aligns with social work values and aims. In many instances, a student’s theoretical framework is based on what they developed in their comprehensive examination theory paper, and they present a paired down description of it in the dissertation proposal. However, for their dissertation research, some students create a theoretical framework that is different from that developed in the comprehensive examination paper. In all cases, students need to clearly present their framework and discuss how it informs the study generally (e.g., questions posed, lens to understand the phenomenon), and possibly the methodology (e.g., centering of narratives) and the implementation of the study. In some quantitative studies, students might aim to test a theory or aspects of it. Some students might include a figure representing their theoretical framework.

6. Research Aims and Questions (1.0 page)

This section presents the study’s broad research aim(s) followed by specific research questions and, for some quantitative studies, hypotheses to be tested. Aim statements reflect the project’s ultimate purpose, whereas research questions are answered through the study. Ensure the research questions/hypotheses are aligned with the type of inquiry (e.g., qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods) to be conducted. A statement providing the rationale for undertaking this research is to be provided in terms of the study’s likely contributions to knowledge as well as its potential benefits for social work practice, policy, and/or other applications.

7. Methods (8.0-10.0 pages)

This section describes the study’s overall methodology (connected to epistemology, reflexive stance, and theory) and outlines the proposed research design and activities. It is important to justify core methodological decisions, which would be based on the state of current knowledge (e.g., little is known about the topic, thus an exploratory study will be conducted), aspects of one’s overall methodology, the research aim(s), and the research population.

If using an overall framework, such as decolonizing, participatory action research, feminist, or critical race, state this and provide a brief description. Note: ensure the methods reflect such frameworks. For example, if your framework emphasizes relational accountability with participants and the community, specify how you will establish such accountability.

For all studies, describe the research approach (i.e., qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods) and the specific design (e.g., ethnography, case study, phenomenology, institutional ethnography; crosssectional survey; explanatory sequential design) being adopted and give a brief justification. This should include a discussion about why this approach/design is appropriate to answer the research questions. Outline the sequence of the phases used in a mixed method inquiry and how they relate to one another.

The methods section should also include:

• Research population, sampling, and recruitment strategy: If engaging various information sources  (e.g., online surveys, interviews, government documents), information about sampling will need to  be provided for each source. What is the research population? What are the inclusion criteria? What  type of sampling (e.g., random, convenience, purposive, maximum variation) will be used and what  is the desired sample size? How will participants be recruited (e.g., posters, emails, social media)?

• Key concepts/measures: For qualitative studies, the core concepts to be explored need to be  described, which might help to frame interview questions (if any). These concepts will be linked to  the theoretical framework you are using. For qualitative studies involving interviews/focus groups,  describe the key areas of exploration of the interviews in order to address the larger research  questions. If applicable, outline steps to pilot test your interview guide(s). For quantitative studies,  outline the key concepts and their conceptual and operational definitions in terms of how they will  be measured (i.e., using existing scales or adaptations of them, or researcher created scales). For  existing scales, briefly discuss the appropriateness of their use with the intended population, as well  as, if applicable their reliability and validity. For adapted scales or ones to be developed as a part of  the project, outline strategies (e.g., cognitive interviewing, pilot testing) to ensure reliability and  validity. For all types of studies, this section should include demographic information that will be  collected from participants to describe the sample and contextualize responses.

• Data collection methods and instruments: Describe the methods for gathering the information and  your specific instruments/tools (e.g., interview guide, focus group facilitation guide, survey).  Outline  the steps used to collect data, including any pilot testing. Provide a brief explanation for how the  methods are appropriate for the study and how they connect to the theoretical and epistemological framework of the study.

• Data analysis plan: Discuss your plan for handling and analyzing your data, including analytic  approaches for qualitative data (e.g., thematic analysis, narrative analysis, discourse analysis) and  statistical functions and tests to be performed for quantitative data. For mixed methods inquiries,  there should be a description of how the data from each phase will be considered in relation to one  another.

• Strategies for rigor: For qualitative studies, describe any strategies for enhancing the rigor and  trustworthiness of the data (e.g., prolonged engagement, triangulation, member checking, negative  case analysis, audit trail).

• Researcher reflexivity: For all studies, describe the reflexive strategies (e.g., journaling, peer  debriefing and support) that will be used.

• Procedural research ethics : Identify and justify any exceptional procedural ethical concerns (e.g.,  use of deception, abnormal risks to participants, obtaining parental consent when research is with  children) emanating from the proposed research and outline plans for addressing them. It is  unnecessary to outline steps associated with following REB standards and guidelines, such as  obtaining informed consent from adults and securely storing data (those will be addressed in your  submission to the REB).  For some parts of the methods section (e.g., measures), some students might be able to effectively convey required information in table format.

8. References

Only items cited in the text should be included. Follow APA (7th ed.) referencing formatting.

9. Appendices

Workplan: Provide a detailed work plan and timeline for the research beginning with applying for REB approval to presenting drafts of the report to your advisor and DAC.

Other Appendices: Students should consult with their advisor to determine if they should include research tools as appendices. These documents might include recruitment materials (e.g., flyers, text for social media/email recruitment), informed consent forms, and/or data collection tools (e.g., interview guides, demographic questionnaires, surveys) that will be required for the REB application for research involving human subjects.

Useful Resources

Absolon, K. (2022). Kaandossiwin, this is how we come to know: Indigenous worldviews and methodologies in search for knowledge (2 nd ed.). Fernwood Publishing.

Antonenko, P.D. (2015). The instrumental value of conceptual frameworks in educational technology research. Educational Technology Research and Development, 63 (1), 53–71.

Creswell, J. W., & Creswell, J. D. (2018). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (5th ed.). Sage.

Locke, L. F., Spirduso, W. W., & Silverman, S. J. (2013). Proposals that work: A guide for planning dissertations and grant proposals (6th ed.). Sage.

Punch, K. F. (2016). Developing effective research proposals (3rd ed.) Sage.

Smith, L. T. Tuhiwai (2021). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and Indigenous peoples . Zed Books

Tuck, E., & Yang, K. W. (2014). R-words: Refusing research. In, Humanizing research: Decolonizing qualitative inquiry with youth and communities (pp. 223-248). Sage.

Walter, M., & Andersen, C. (2013). Conceptualizing quantitative methodologies. In, Indigenous statistics: A quantitative research methodology. Routledge. [This source is useful for understanding the connection between the research standpoint involving the researcher’s epistemology, social position, axiology, and ontology, theoretical frame, and research methods]

Van de Sande, A. & Schwartz K. (2017). Research for social justice . Fernwood.

Ethics Review

Approval of the dissertation proposal.

All members of the DAC must review and approve the dissertation proposal. All members of the DAC must sign the  PhD dissertation proposal approval form . One copy of the approved proposal should also be attached to the form and given to the associate dean who will forward it and the original signed form to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Doctoral Dissertation Format

The dissertation is the culmination of a candidate's program. All PhD candidates are required to complete an original dissertation that makes a significant contribution to the existing knowledge in their field. If dissertation research involves humans, approval must be obtained from the Laurier  Research Ethics Board ; if it involves animals, approval must be obtained from the  Laurier Animal Care Committee .

In order that the dissertation may be subject to the scholarly criticism of all members of the university community, it is placed on display in the Graduate Studies office two weeks prior to the oral defence. Also, the oral defence is open to any member of the university community.

Traditional Dissertation Format

This work is understood to be a structurally unified body of work, with each part contributing to the development of a coherent whole, with an overarching research question/concern that is developed through a succession of chapters or sections (though this does not necessarily mean parts might not be excerpted for publication). The guiding principle here is that the manuscript most closely resembles a book.

The traditional dissertation can include the following components:

  • copyright page
  • declaration of co-authorship/previous publication
  • dedication (if applicable)
  • acknowledgements (if applicable)
  • table of contents
  • list of tables (if applicable)
  • list of figures (if applicable)
  • list of appendices (if applicable)
  • list of abbreviations, symbols
  • nomenclature (if applicable)
  • body of thesis (divided into various chapters)
  • bibliography/references (can either precede or follow the appendices)
  • appendices (include copyright releases here where applicable)

Guidelines for the Multiple Manuscript Dissertation Option

The Faculty of Social Work acknowledges the individual preferences and strengths of its doctoral students. To recognize such strengths, we offer the Multiple Manuscript Dissertation (MMD) option for SK899: Dissertation. Under this option, the dissertation is a coherent body of work; however, the student writes a minimum of three articles suitable for publication in peer-reviewed journals, and these articles become components of the findings, methods and/or literature review sections of the dissertation.

Please note that when a student, prior to the dissertation defence, submits a manuscript for publication that will be included in the dissertation, he/she should be advised that acceptance of a manuscript from a journal is separate from and does not constitute acceptance or approval by the advisory committee. It is the responsibility of the examining committee to determine if the dissertation fully meets degree requirements.

MMD Approval

Students wishing to pursue this option should discuss the feasibility and appropriateness of this option with their advisor. All students who wish to select the MMD option require prior approval of their advisor and DAC. Faculty members who prefer not to work with students choosing this option should communicate this to students who inquire about it.

Organization of the MMD

  • Issue/problem to be investigated is clearly articulated, identifies central concerns.
  • Context of the issue/problem is presented.
  • Theoretical or conceptual framework guiding the dissertation is identified as appropriate.
  • A rationale for the dissertation as a whole is provided.
  • An overview of the dissertation as a whole is presented.
  • Objectives for the dissertation as a whole are identified.
  • Presented in a logical sequence.
  • Provides a summary of the current state of knowledge on the problem.
  • Identifies consistencies and contradictions in the literature.
  • Notes gaps or areas with little research.
  • Lays a foundation for the dissertation study.
  • A manuscript that reviews all or parts of relevant literature and is a self-contained article prepared for, submitted to, or already published in a peer-reviewed journal may form a part of this section.
  • Research questions and/or hypotheses are clearly stated.
  • Research design, sampling, data collection and analysis.
  • Rationale for these choices is provided.
  • A manuscript that describes all or part of the methodology employed and is a self-contained article prepared for, submitted to, or already published in a peer-reviewed journal may form a part of this section.
  • Findings are presented in the form of one or more manuscripts that are self-contained articles prepared for, submitted to, or already published in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Findings from the research that are not reported in the manuscripts should be reported in a separate chapter in this section.
  • Provides a synthesis of the main findings of the full dissertation including the findings reported in the manuscripts.
  • Strengths and limitations of the dissertation are provided.
  • General conclusions and implications for practice and future research are provided.
  • References.

Style Requirements

Articles are submitted to journals following the style requirements of those particular journals. The dissertation will be formatted and bound consistent with Laurier guidelines.

Dissertation Proposal and Defence Procedures

Dissertations prepared under the MMD option are subject to dissertation defence procedures as specified by the policies and procedures set out by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Authorship of a Manuscripts Included in the MMD

Normally all manuscripts that are included in the MMD Dissertation are authored by the doctoral student only. Any exceptions to this practice must be approved by the PhD Admissions, Curriculum and Student Affairs Committee.

Related Forms

  • PhD Dissertation Advisory Committee Membership Formation Form
  • PhD Dissertation Advisory Committee Membership Change Form
  • PhD Dissertation Proposal Approval Form
  • PhD Dissertation Defence - Request to Schedule Oral Examination Form

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  • Parents' experiences of reunification service during placement of their children in child and youth care centres: practice guidelines for social workers  Sethole, Lorraine Mmapelo ( 2023-01 ) Due to the increasing number of children in need of care and protection in South Africa, the majority of these children are removed from the care of their parents and placed at child and youth care centres (CYCCs) for ...
  • The experiences, challenges and coping strategies of women living in community residential units : Glebelands CRU case study  Mthembu, Khanyisile Busisiwe ( 2023-01-20 ) Background: Community residential units (CRUs) were introduced in 2006 in South Africa to increase women’s access to adequate low-cost housing rentals. The aim of this investigation was to explore the experiences, challenges ...
  • The experiences of and responses to compassion fatigue amongst social workers employed in government hospitals  Motshana, Sebedi Clement ( 2023-01-27 ) Social workers working in government hospitals are tasked to render social work support services to patients and their families within a multidisciplinary team approach, however, there is a lack of research evidence ...
  • The reflections of young people who are raised within ‘gonyalelwa lapa’ cultural practice among Bapedi in Limpopo Province : guidelines for social work intervention  Kabekwa, Mmoledi ( 2022-12-01 ) ‘Gonyalelwa lapa’ cultural practice is one of the various forms of marital associations and expressions in the day-to-day cultural practices, rituals and traditions of African Black people. This cultural practice occurs ...
  • Men’s perceptions on factors contributing to the emergence of intimate partner femicide (IPF) in Limpopo Province, South Africa  Selepe, Tsheletsi Phineas Lawrence ( 2022-12-12 ) Generally, men are associated with characteristics of masculinity such as showing leadership, being tough, hiding emotions, being virile, and likely being perpetrator of violence. In contrast, women are associated with ...
  • Experiences, challenges, and coping strategies of Zimbabwean mothers caring for their minor children without family support whilst residing in South Africa  Kekana, Jela Prudans ( 2022-02-28 ) Background to the study: Family support and Zimbabwean migration is commonly alluded to by various researchers globally and in South Africa. The reason for migration is mainly financial opportunities. One of the common ...
  • A social work study on factors contributing to a high rate of depression amongst university students from the age of 19 - 23 years  Matthew, S. A. ( 2022-12 ) Over the past few decades, the increase in depression amongst university students has become a global concern. In attempting to understand the increase in the prevalence of depression amongst university students, it is ...
  • Strategies to prevent HIV infections among women in the Ditsobotla Municipality of the North West Province, South Africa  Phakedi, Lebotse Stephen ( 2023-03-31 ) The status of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) among women in South Africa is worrisome. Imbalances in power relations between men and women subject women to perpetual vulnerability to HIV infection whilst effective ...
  • The experiences of social workers working in multi-disciplinary teams in state hospitals in the Waterberg District, Limpopo Province  Legodi, Tsemeng Jack ( 2022-11 ) Following South Africa’s independence in 1994, the number of hospital social work posts in state hospitals were substantially increased. Subsequently, unprecedented contextual changes have affected hospital services, ...
  • The influence of South African Police Service (SAPS) employees’ primary relationship experiences on their productivity in the workplace: informing employee assistance programme  Setabola, Kgaugelo Caroline ( 2022-10 ) The study provides an analysis of studies conducted by different researchers with regard to the relationship between the influence of a primary relationship and work productivity. It has been discovered that intimate ...
  • Resiliency amongst rural social workers in managing their experiences of work-related challenges  Botha, Lindiwe Portia ( 2022-11-15 ) Background of the study - The notion of resilience was first recognised in the field of psychopathology in the 1970s. The concept can be used to explain the individual responses to challenges and traumatic events which led ...
  • The experiences and challenges faced by youth leaving care during the COVID-19 pandemic  Zingwe, Fadzaishe Bridget ( 2022-11-15 ) Placement of children and youth at care centres has been a practice spanning over the years worldwide, to provide safe places resembling a home environment to the children and youth. This research study investigated the ...
  • Supportive supervision: a model for social work supervisors  Bhuda, Gladys Bathabile ( 2019-03 ) Social work practice is extremely demanding on the practitioner. Social workers, especially in the public domain, handle high caseloads whilst simultaneously conducting group and community work amidst the demands ...
  • School social workers' and educators' experiences on school-based violence: suggestions for stakeholder support  Maota, Y. M. ( 2022-05 ) School-based violence (SBV) is a phenomenon that burdens many countries globally. A substantial proportion of schools and governments are still struggling to find a solution to it. There are a limited number of reports on ...
  • The challenges experienced by youths leaving kinship foster care in South Africa  Zimudzi, Catherine ( 2022-05 ) Young people who leave foster care in South Africa typically encounter greater difficulties transitioning into young adulthood when compared to their peers who grow up with their biological parents. The aim of the study ...

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35 Best Social Psychology Dissertation Topics

Published by Carmen Troy at January 2nd, 2023 , Revised On August 11, 2023

A dissertation or a thesis paper is the fundamental prerequisite to the degree programme, irrespective of your academic discipline. The field of social psychology is not different.

When working on the dissertation, the students must demonstrate what they wish to accomplish with their study. They must be authentic with their ideas and solutions to achieve the highest possible academic grade.

A dissertation in social psychology should examine the influence others have on people’s behaviour. This is because the interaction of people in different groups is the main focus of the discipline. Social connections in person are the main focus of social psychology and therefore your chosen social psychology topic should be based on a real-life social experience or phenomenon.

Also read: Sociology dissertation topics

We have compiled a list of the top social psychology dissertation topics to help you get started.

List of Social Psychology Dissertation Topics

  • What impact do priming’s automatic effects have on complex behaviour in everyday life?
  • The social intuitionist model examines the role that emotion and reason play in moral decision-making.
  • Examine the lasting effects of cognitive dissonance.
  • What psychological consequences does spanking have on kids?
  • Describe the consequences and root causes of childhood attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Explain the causes of antisocial behaviour in young people.
  • Discuss infants’ early warning symptoms of mental disease.
  • List the main factors that young adults most commonly experience; increased stress and depression.
  • Describe several forms of torture in detail, emphasising how they affect children’s minds and adult lives.
  • Describe the impact of violent video games and music on a child’s development.
  • Talk about how the family influences early non-verbal communication in infants.
  • Examine the scope and persistence of the variables influencing the impact of automatic priming on social behaviour.
  • What does this mean for upholding one’s integrity and comprehending interpersonal relationships?
  • Examine the connection between loneliness and enduring health issues.
  • Identify several approaches to measuring older people’s social networks.
  • Compare and contrast the types of social networks, housing, and elderly people’s health across time.
  • The primary causes of young people’s moral decline are social influences. Discuss.
  • Discuss what has improved our understanding of social psychology using examples from social psychology theories.
  • What are the socio-psychological reasons and consequences of drinking alcohol?
  • What makes some persons more attractive in social situations?
  • Discuss how culture affects a society’s ability to be cohesive and united.
  • Discuss how a person’s career affects their social standing in society.
  • What psychological effects might long-term caregiving have?
  • How ddoesa leader’s relationship and followers change under charismatic leadership?
  • Discuss the tactics that support and thwart interpersonal harmony using the group identity theory as your foundation.
  • Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of intimate cross-cultural relationships.
  • Examine and clarify the socio-psychological components of cults using examples.
  • Discuss how sociocultural perceptions have an impact on socio-psychology.
  • How has technology affected communication and interpersonal relationships?
  • What part does religion play in bringing people together?
  • Describe the socio-psychological impacts of dense population and crowded living.
  • What are the effects of a child’s introverted personality on others?
  • Explain how carelessness on the part of parents and childhood obesity are related.
  • Study the psychological, moral, and legal ramifications of adoption.
  • What are the corrective and preventative steps that can stop child abuse?

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Choosing social psychology dissertation topics can be frustrating. We have provided you with original dissertation topic suggestions to aid you in developing a thought-provoking and worthwhile dissertation for your degree.

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How to find social psychology dissertation topics.

To discover social psychology dissertation topics:

  • Explore recent research in journals.
  • Investigate real-world social issues.
  • Examine psychological theories.
  • Consider cultural influences.
  • Brainstorm topics aligned with your passion.
  • Aim for novelty and significance in your chosen area.

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Need interesting and manageable literature dissertation topics or thesis? Here are the trending literature dissertation titles so you can choose the most suitable one.

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Feel free to use or get inspired by our list of the top 20 most interesting dissertation topics on youth crime and young offenders.






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Doctorate in Social Work (DSW) Dissertations

This series contains dissertations from Penn's Doctorate in Social Work program. For more information about University of Pennsylvania dissertation requirements and guidelines, please consult the dissertation manual .

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  • Publication Technology as the Third Spouse - The Impact of Smartphones on Newlywed Couples ( 2021-05-15 ) Mandel, Sarah Show more Background Recent research has explored the impact of technology and smartphone use on relationships. This is the first study to address smartphone use in the newlywed stage of marriage. The newlywed time period is the foundational phase of a marital relationship. Technological changes have become part of our culture and smartphone technology has become central to individuals’ lives. The accessibility and size of the smartphone, along with the features it provides, is different from all other devices, thus creating a more intimate and dependent relationship with it. Methods The aim of this study was to expand upon the existing research related to smartphone technology by addressing the gap in the literature on smartphone use during the newlywed time period. This qualitative study explored the experiences of smartphone use in newlywed couples when in each other's presence and how smartphones were part of a newlywed couple’s interaction. Twenty newlywed couples, married between one and four years were interviewed separately, totaling a sample of 40 participants. Data were collected from June 2020 through July 2020 until saturation was met. Results The five themes that were illuminated in this study were, Vehicle, Mindset, Phone Rules, Interface, and Circular Use. The themes were developed based on the appreciation of the common experience of all the participants within their newlywed marriage in relation to their smartphone use (n=40). The results indicated that the smartphone is a neutral reflection of its user and is a vehicle that can be used to either magnify or minimize the value of the couple’s interaction when together. The user’s needs and mindset drive the use of the smartphone. Depending on the spouse’s mindset, the smartphone was used to either enhance bonding or to create a momentary outlet within the relationship. The unexpected finding that a person’s mindset effected their smartphone use informed the reason why individuals used their smartphone object in the moment when with their spouse. Discussion These findings support that when the newlywed couple either employed rules or made quality time a priority by putting the brakes on their smartphone consumption, smartphone use did not have a negative effect on their feelings of attachment to each other. This study suggests the importance of understanding a spouse’s mindset as a motivating factor for smartphone use during shared interactions in order for the couple to better acknowledge each other’s needs and support their developing marital bond. This research has provided information that stresses the importance of helping couples exchange their seeking of connection to their devices in exchange for live and conscious connection to their partner. Show more
  • Publication The Impact of the Therapeutic Alliance, Therapist Empathy and Perceived Coercion on Engagement in Outpatient Therapy for Individuals with Serious Mental Health Conditions ( 2020-05-18 ) Mallonee, Jason R Show more Purpose: Individuals with serious mental health conditions disengage from treatment at a higher rate than other populations. Factors associated with treatment engagement for this population in other contexts, or in outpatient therapy for other populations, include the therapeutic alliance, therapist empathy, and perceived coercion. This study tested the hypothesis that a stronger therapeutic alliance, a greater degree of therapist empathy, and a lower degree of coercion will be associated with a higher degree of engagement in outpatient therapy for individuals with SMHC when controlling for other factors found to be associated with engagement. Methods: 131 participants completed an anonymous web-based survey measuring the study’s constructs with established scales. The relationship between variables was tested using hierarchical multiple regression analysis. Results: After separating the therapeutic alliance and therapist empathy in the multivariate analysis due to multicollinearity, both the therapeutic alliance and therapist empathy were found to be significant predictors of change in client engagement. Perceived coercion was not found to be a significant predictor of change in client engagement. It was also found that participant treatment utilization at the time of survey completion was significantly less intensive than their historical treatment utilization, and that participants reflect a range of symptoms and levels of impairment. Conclusions and Implications: The therapeutic alliance and the quality of therapist-client interactions are the most important factors in maintaining engagement in outpatient therapy for individuals with SMHC. Individuals with SMHC are managing their conditions with less intensive and less restrictive treatments, despite a varying range of symptom severity and functional impairment. Additional research is needed to better understand engagement in therapy for individuals with SMHC and to develop more sensitive measures for evaluating these constructs. Show more
  • Publication THE DEVELOPMENT OF A SYSTEMIC, TRAUMA-INFORMED GROUP MODEL TO REDUCE SECONDARY TRAUMATIC STRESS AMONG VIOLENCE INTERVENTION WORKERS ( 2019-05-20 ) Vega, Laura Show more ABSTRACT THE DEVELOPMENT OF A SYSTEMIC, TRAUMA-INFORMED GROUP MODEL TO REDUCE SECONDARY TRAUMATIC STRESS AMONG VIOLENCE INTERVENTION WORKERS Laura Vega, MSW, LCSW Lani Nelson-Zlupko, Ph.D., LCSW Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS) among violence intervention workers is pervasive and increases the risk of negative psychosocial and health outcomes. Compelling evidence demonstrates the virulent impact of STS on individual workers, clients, and organizations (Bride, 2007; Figley, 1995; Pearlman & Saakvitne, 1995). STS is an occupational hazard and organizations have an ethical obligation to implement strategies to address it, ultimately protecting workers and clients. However, research is limited on effective interventions to address this issue, with existing interventions focusing narrowly on self-care strategies. Due to the significant and consistent trauma exposure inherent in violence intervention work, it is essential for STS interventions to be proactive, ongoing, and agency-based. This dissertation identifies key risk and protective factors, reviews existing interventions, and describes gaps in those interventions. The development of a group model, Stress-Less Initiative, is presented, an evidence-informed, theoretically grounded intervention that is proactive, ongoing, and embedded within the organization to prevent secondary trauma. The Stress-Less Initiative is a team-based model that provides a safe context to reflect on the impact of trauma work while increasing collegial support, coping strategies, team cohesion and resilience. Recommendations for agency use of this intervention are provided and implications for practice, research and policy are presented. Show more
  • Publication PARENTAL "SENSE OF AGENCY": A QUALITATIVE STUDY OF PARENTS EXPERIENCES ASSISTING THEIR CHILDREN IN OUTPATIENT COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT. ( 2022-08-05 ) Erickson, Eric G Show more Parental “Sense of Agency”: A Qualitative Study of Parents Experiences Assisting their Children in Outpatient Community Mental Health Treatment. ABSTRACT In the United States, there are approximately 17 million children under the age of 17 that have commonly diagnosed mental health disorders which include ADHD, behavior problems, anxiety, and depression (Bitsko et al., 2019). In efforts to provide access to mental health treatment, there are approximately 11,682 mental health facilities as of 2018, 62% of which are comprised of community mental health centers and outpatient mental health clinics that provide mental health services for children and families (SAMSHA, 2018). The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study is to explore the experiences of parents and/or primary caregivers “sense of agency” in reference to working with mental health professionals in outpatient community mental health settings. For the purposes of this study, “sense of agency” is defined as actions that are experienced as voluntary and in which we may not feel as simply happening to us rather, we experience agency when we are in control of our actions (Synofzik et al., 2008; Moore, 2016). The assumption in the study is that parents “sense of agency” is a critical aspect of parents being able to effectively engage and implement evidenced based interventions utilized for their children in outpatient community mental health settings. Furthermore, parents increased or improved “sense of agency” would have a lasting impact on their ability to assist their children with mental health conditions even after their children are no longer receiving mental health treatment. The theoretical framework that was utilized in the study to explore parents “sense of agency” was Bowen’s Family Systems Theory. The study was comprised of N=10 participants who had one or more children participating in one outpatient clinic in Central Harlem. Parents engaged in a one-hour semi-structured interview which explored their experiences assisting their children in mental health treatment and their interactions with their child, mental health practitioners and other supports. After the study was completed, four major themes emerged. The four themes included: parents locus of control, parental activation, parental attributions, and issues related to the utilization of psychotropic medication by some of the children in the study. These themes impacted parents “sense of agency” in how they were able to engage in their child’s treatment, what they believed were potential causes of their child’s mental health condition, their orientation of control (whether external or internal) in reference to their child’s progress in treatment, as well as, navigating their children’s resistance to psychotropic medication. Social work practice implications would incorporate interventions that can increase parents “sense of agency”, specifically due to its relational nature which may lead to a transmission of agency to future generations considering the ongoing systemic challenges that families may face in their own communities. The implications for future studies may focus not only on parents “sense of agency” during their child’s mental health treatment but parents “sense of agency” before the start of their child’s treatment process in relation to their capacity to implement interventions that are formulated alongside the mental health practitioner. Furthermore, studies may seek to follow up with parents after their child’s completion of treatment in efforts to understand parents’ experiences or changes in their “sense of agency” as it relates to their children’s mental health. These studies would further allow to improve the understanding between parents “sense of agency” and long-term outcomes in mental health treatment for their children. Show more
  • Publication A Comparative Effectiveness Study of the Trauma Recovery Empowerment Model (TREM) and an Attachment-Informed Variation of TREM ( 2017-05-15 ) Masin-Moyer, Melanie Show more Abstract A Comparative Effectiveness Study of the Trauma Recovery Empowerment Model (TREM) and an Attachment-Informed Variation of TREM (ATREM) Melanie Masin-Moyer, University of Pennsylvania Dr. Phyllis Solomon, Dissertation Chair, University of Pennsylvania Dr. Malitta Engstrom, Dissertation Committee Member, University of Pennsylvania Objective: An evidenced-based women’s trauma group was modified to create a new protocol, Attachment-Informed Trauma Recovery Empowerment Model (ATREM), which included attachment-based concepts and strategies to determine if well-being could be enhanced beyond the Trauma Recovery Empowerment Model (TREM). A quasi-experimental design was used to test the hypothesis that ATREM would be associated with greater improvement in attachment security, perceived social support, emotion regulation, substance use, depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms than TREM. Methods: Sixty-nine women completed the group interventions (n = 37 ATREM; n = 32 TREM), along with pre- and-post-test questionnaires. The questionnaires included sociodemographic questions and the following standardized scales: Relationship Scale Questionnaire, Social Group Attachment Scale, Social Support Scale, Difficulties in Emotional Regulation, Brief Symptom Inventory 18, PTSD Symptom Scale, and modified versions of the Lifetime Stressor Checklist Revised and the Addiction Severity Index. The continuous variables were analyzed using paired t-tests for within-group comparisons and independent t-tests for between-group comparisons, and the categorical variables were analyzed using Chi-Square or Fisher’s Exact Test. Results: Both ATREM and TREM were associated with statistically significant within-group improvement in individual and group attachment styles, perceived social support, emotion regulation capacities, depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Only ATREM was associated with statistically significant improvement in individual attachment avoidance. The gains associated with ATREM did not exceed those associated with TREM as hypothesized. Conclusion: This pilot study extends prior findings on TREM by demonstrating that novel infusions of attachment-focused strategies into this evidence-based practice can facilitate comparable growth across a variety of measures of well-being. ATREM was also able to promote significant reductions in individual attachment avoidance, a style of interacting often considered challenging to modify. ATREM’s integrated design with cognitive-behavioral and psychodynamic elements holds potential to enhance responsiveness and effectiveness of TREM in meeting the diverse needs of women who have experienced trauma. Further, this study demonstrates the effectiveness of brief trauma-focused group therapy and provides insight into the emerging concept of group attachment style. Show more
  • Publication It’s the Journey: The Developmental and Attachment Implications of Animal Assisted Play Therapy(TM) for Children in Emergency Housing ( 2018-05-14 ) Wenocur, Katharine P Show more BACKGROUND: Child homelessness is correlated with a wide range of health and psychosocial challenges including poor school performance, juvenile justice involvement, and heightened risk of exposure to early-life violence and trauma. Despite this, participation in therapy tends to be low. Animal Assisted Play TherapyTM (AAPT), a comprehensive model that systematically integrates trained therapy animals into play therapy, serves as a compelling modality for engaging this population into treatment. The tenets of AAPT are aligned with several clinical goal areas that homeless children might address in therapy, including the strengthening of attachment relationships with primary caregivers. METHODS: The study integrated analysis of projective drawings and accompanying narratives with the treatment records of 11 children (ages 6-11) who received canine assisted therapy while residing in an urban, mid-Atlantic family homeless shelter. All children worked with a clinician trained in AAPT and participated in at least three therapy sessions with a qualified therapy dog present. Each child created a drawing in response to the prompt: “Draw a picture of a child and a dog”, and told a story based on the contents of their drawing. Parent/caregivers of each child participated in a qualitative interview that elicited feedback and reflections on the therapy process. Grounded constructivist theory and interpretive description were used to conduct both individual and cross-participant analysis. Analysis was further informed by children’s case history files and parent interviews about children’s developmental history. RESULTS: The projective drawings communicated aspects of homeless children’s relationships with the therapy dog and, in turn, with their primary caregivers. Developmentally, children drew at lower levels than would be expected for their age. Each child personalized their drawing, either by identifying the protagonist as their gender, or including a physical characteristic (e.g. clothing, hairstyle) unique to the child; this suggests that the children tapped into their personal experience. Several themes emerged from analysis of the drawings and narratives including representations of lived and wished-for attachment experiences. Children depicted relationships between the characters in their drawings and narratives that were characterized by emotional closeness as well as frequent separations and reunions. Children also highlighted the importance of learning tasks related to training and caring for the dogs. These themes were reflected in the children's treatment records and the parent/caregiver interviews. Parent/caregivers described their child's experience in therapy positively, and identified the therapy dog as a component of the treatment's success. IMPLICATIONS: Projective drawings enabled homeless children to communicate their attachment experiences in a manner sensitive to their developmental needs. Themes that emerged from this study inform further research on specific benefits of animal assisted therapy. Specifically, the themes of lived and wished-for attachment experiences suggest that further research on this modality might focus on the ways that the modality allows children to build new relationships and strengthen existing ones. The drawings created during this study are a valuable tool in understanding the experiences of homeless children, and lay the groundwork for further study of the use of projective drawings for exploring children's experiences in therapy. Show more
  • Publication TRAUMA-INFORMED CASE MANAGEMENT PRACTICE FOR YOUTH EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS: CONNECTION, HEALING AND TRANSFORMATION ( 2018-05-14 ) McAlpin, Frank Show more Young people experiencing homelessness in the United States are some of the most resilient individuals in our society. They, like all young people, are filled with extraordinary potential. However, the multiple and chronic trauma that these young people experience, caused by systemic injustices such as poverty, violence and oppression, both before and while experiencing homelessness, deeply violate their dignity and human rights. For youth experiencing homelessness, their very survival physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and economically is threatened daily. Experiences such as: abuse, neglect, poverty, housing instability, loss, family and community violence, victimization, exploitation, hunger, illness, criminalization, social isolation, rejection and marginalization profoundly influence a young person’s sense of safety and ultimately their health and wellbeing. The purpose of this project is to create a response to youth homelessness that restores and enhances dignity and provides opportunities for connection, healing and transformation. This will be accomplished by the creation of a Trauma-Informed Case Management Toolkit for case managers working with youth experiencing homelessness. In short, this response addresses the individual needs of young people experiencing homelessness while also encouraging social change. The trauma-informed case management toolkit, a holistic guide in delivering case management services, connects theory to practice for case managers, infusing principles of trauma-informed care, attachment theory, youth development and social justice into case management practice with youth experiencing homelessness. The intention is that the trauma-informed case management toolkit can be used as part of the larger response in addressing youth homelessness from an individual, community, societal, and policy perspective. Show more
  • Publication Client-Clinician Texting: An Expansion of the Clinical Holding Environment ( 2015-05-19 ) Innocente, Gina M Show more While there has been a surge in the texting literature related to the innovative uses of mobile technology in clinical social work practice, there is a dearth of knowledge related to the use of texting between clients and clinicians. Regardless of a clinician’s individual preference for using texting, cultural paradigm shifts in communication and interpersonal expectations will require incorporation of texting technology to meet client demands. This two-part dissertation provides a critical review of the literature that chronicles the rapid diffusion of texting into American culture and identifies its current use in psychotherapy. It demonstrates a significant gap related to its impact on the therapeutic relationship, as well as the absence of theoretical evolution to guide practice. An accompanying article expands relational theory as a way to conceptualize texting and texting behaviors in order to make responsible and purposeful decisions when integrating this technology. Composite case vignettes will demonstrate how “theoretical knowing” can be translated into “clinical doing” to address this current gap between theory and practice. Show more
  • Publication EXPLAINING THE LONG-DISTANCE PARENT CAREGIVING BURDEN OF THE UNITED STATES FOREIGN SERVICE AND MILITARY ( 2022-08-05 ) Holmes, Christine D Show more Purpose: To respond to global trends in aging, healthcare, technology and mobile labor markets, this cross-sectional, correlational study examined the burden of long-distance parent caregivers, or adults coordinating parent care remotely, by using a convenience sample of U.S. active-duty military personnel and Foreign Service Officers. Methods: 79 respondents completed an anonymous online survey containing standardized scales. The relationship between variables was tested using multiple regression analysis and One-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). Results: Preparedness for caregiving was negatively correlated with subjective and objective caregiving burden in multiple regression analysis. One-way ANOVA revealed a statistically significant difference in subjective burden based on caregiving intensity. There was also a significant difference in objective burden based on the reason the recipient needed care, but post-hoc analysis found no inter-group differences that passed the Bonferroni adjusted cutoff for significance. Multiple regression analysis demonstrated that the gender of the caregiver, availability of a sibling support network and instrumental support were not significantly correlated with burden. Conclusions and Implications: Preparedness for caregiving had the strongest relationship to distance caregiving burden in this study. Findings may inform intervention strategies to limit the strains of caregiving and support other distance caregiver subgroups, such as other U.S. Government employees and other Americans living overseas. Future longitudinal research is needed to understand causality and the relationship between variables in the long-distance caregiving trajectory over time. Show more
  • Publication THIRD CULTURE KIDS (TCKs) GO TO COLLEGE: A RETROSPECTIVE NARRATIVE INQUIRY OF INTERNATIONAL UPBRINGING AND COLLEGIATE ENGAGEMENT ( 2018-05-14 ) Espada-Campos, Shakira Show more BACKGROUND: Third Culture Kids (TCKs) are those who have been raised in a culture outside of the culture of their parents, usually in a host country that differs from the country of their birth, because of their parents’ work or religious endeavors. Some of the groups that identify themselves as TCKs include children of military service members stationed overseas, children of members of the Foreign Service, and the children of missionaries. These children are growing up in a culture and society that is different from their parents’ passport country and may vastly differ in language spoken, religious beliefs, and cultural norms. Pollock and Van Reken (2001) explain TCKs as being between cultures, stating that the third culture is developed by the child to explain an identity that is different from that of the host country or the parents’ home country. This retrospective narrative inquiry explored the undergraduate college experiences of Adult Third Culture Kids (ATCKs) to understand the risk and protective factors associated with repatriation and collegiate engagement. METHODS: This study employed a qualitative approach combining heuristic analysis and procedures of grounded theory during data collection, analysis, and interpretation of findings. Twelve semi-structured interviews were conducted face-to-face with individuals who self-identified as ATCKs and had completed a four year undergraduate program earning a degree. RESULTS: Concepts related to understanding the self, and meaningful connections and relationships emerged from the data revealing how repatriation can be simultaneously volatile and emotionally grounding. Themes uncovered during data analysis included perceptions of self-identity, investment, the concept of home, uneven development, and factors contributing to college choice. DISCUSSION: Research findings suggest the need for culturally informed administrative practices to mitigate psychosocial challenges associated with academic engagement. Interventions related to student identification procedures, supportive resources, and campus life programs should be incorporated to support multicultural students starting at the time of application and continuing through to graduation. Show more
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As the adage goes, a good dissertation is a done dissertation, and the goal is for you to find balance in your writing and establish the steps you can take to make the process smoother. Here are some practical strategies for tackling the PhD dissertation.

Write daily

This is a time to have honest conversations with yourself about your writing and work habits. Do you tackle the most challenging work in the morning? Or do you usually start with emails? Knowing your work routine will help you set parameters for the writing process, which includes various elements, from brainstorming ideas to setting outlines and editing. Once you are aware of your energy and focus levels, you’ll be ready to dedicate those times to writing.

While it might be tempting to block a substantial chunk of time to write and assume anything shorter is not useful, that is not the case. Writing daily, whether it’s a paragraph or several pages, keeps you in conversation with your writing practice. If you schedule two hours to write, remember to take a break during that time and reset. You can try:

  • The Pomodoro Technique: a time management technique that breaks down your work into intervals
  • Taking breaks: go outside for a walk or have a snack so you can come back to your writing rejuvenated
  • Focus apps: it is easy to get distracted by devices and lose direction. Here are some app suggestions: Focus Bear (no free version); Forest (free version available); Cold Turkey website blocker (free version available) and Serene (no free version). 

This is a valuable opportunity to hone your time management and task prioritisation skills. Find out what works for you and put systems in place to support your practice. 

  • Resources on academic writing for higher education professionals
  • Stretch your work further by ‘triple writing’
  • What is your academic writing temperament?

Create a community

While writing can be an isolating endeavour, there are ways to start forming a community (in-person or virtual) to help you set goals and stay accountable. There might be someone in your cohort who is also at the writing stage with whom you can set up a weekly check-in. Alternatively, explore your university’s resources and centres because there may be units and departments on campus that offer helpful opportunities, such as a writing week or retreat. Taking advantage of these opportunities helps combat isolation, foster accountability and grow networks. They can even lead to collaborations further down the line.

  • Check in with your advisers and mentors. Reach out to your networks to find out about other people’s writing processes and additional resources.
  • Don’t be afraid to share your work. Writing requires constant revisions and edits and finding people who you trust with feedback will help you grow as a writer. Plus, you can also read their work and help them with their editing process.
  • Your community does not have to be just about writing!  If you enjoy going on hikes or trying new coffee shops, make that part of your weekly habit.  Sharing your work in different environments will help clarify your thoughts and ideas.

Address the why

The PhD dissertation writing process is often lengthy and it is sometimes easy to forget why you started. In these moments, it can be helpful to think back to what got you excited about your research and scholarship in the first place. Remember it is not just the work but also the people who propelled you forward. One idea is to start writing your “acknowledgements” section. Here are questions to get you started:

  • Do you want to dedicate your work to someone? 
  • What ideas sparked your interest in this journey? 
  • Who cheered you on? 

This practice can help build momentum, as well as serve as a good reminder to carve out time to spend with your community. 

You got this!

Writing is a process. Give yourself grace, as you might not feel motivated all the time. Be consistent in your approach and reward yourself along the way. There is no single strategy when it comes to writing or maintaining motivation, so experiment and find out what works for you. 

Suggested readings

  • Thriving as a Graduate Writer by Rachel Cayley (2023)
  • Destination Dissertation by Sonja K. Foss and William Waters (2015)
  • The PhD Writing Handbook by Desmond Thomas (2016).

Mabel Ho is director of professional development and student engagement at Dalhousie University.

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Prizes for Best PhD Thesis 2023

Stock image of a trophy

The Department of Chemistry is pleased to announce the following prizes for outstanding work by graduate students. These awards, announced each spring, recognize doctoral research and carry a $1,000 prize. The awards were established in Academic Year 2021-22 and are funded by endowments made possible through the philanthropic support of faculty, friends, and alumni.

George H. Cady Prize for Best Thesis in Inorganic Chemistry

Ben Mitchell earned his Ph.D. in 2023 for his work with Assistant Professor Alexandra Velian on “Leveraging Molecular Nanoclusters for Atomistic Insights Into Reactive Interfaces.” He is now a Science, Technology, and Policy Fellow of the Building Technologies Office in the Department of Energy. As a fellow, Ben works on advancing a range of innovative technologies and solutions to decarbonize commercial building infrastructure. Ben is based in Washington, DC.

Gary and Sue Christian Prize for Best Thesis in Analytical Chemistry

Caitlin Cain will earn her Ph.D. in 2024 for her work with Professor Robert Synovec on “Advances in the Chemometric Analysis of Multiway Chromatographic Data to Improve Discovery and Identification.” In summer 2024, she will begin a postdoctoral research position with Professor Robert Kennedy at the University of Michigan, where she will probe our understanding of the brain metabolome with use of capillary liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry and chemometric data analysis methods.

B. Seymore Rabinovitch Prize for Best Thesis in Physical Chemistry

Kristina Herman will earn her Ph.D. in 2024 for her work with Affiliate Professor Sotiris Xantheas titled “Extension of the Many-Body Expansion (MBE) to Periodic Systems: Developing Tools to Analyze and Improve Models of Intermolecular Interactions.” Kristina has accepted a position as a postdoctoral scholar with Prof. Greg Voth's group at the University of Chicago where she will develop multiscale computational models of the HIV life cycle.

Congratulations, Ben, Caitlin, and Kristina!

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