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Abstracts of Volume 27, 2009 (1) (2) (3) (4) of the Journal of Technology in Human Services

Volume 27/1: 2009 Special Issue: Papers from the HUSITA8 Conference

Perpetuating old exclusions and producing new ones: Digital exclusion in an information society by Yu Cheung Wong, Chi Kwong Law, John Yat Chu Fung, & Jolie Chi Yee Yam

KEYWORDS: digital divide, digital inclusion index, disadvantaged groups, ICT

ABSTRACT:  This article presents a study that measures the degree of digital exclusion—or, conversely, the degree of digital inclusion—in Hong Kong, a developed city in East Asia. Governments in the region are among the most active in the developed world in pushing ahead in developing knowledge economies and information societies. The major concern is to improve=maintain their competitiveness in the new knowledge economy created by the process of globalization and the advancement in information technology. Many countries in the region have established themselves in the top ranks of a number of indexes and measurements comparing digital readiness, digital access, information and communication technology penetration, and others. However, not all the citizens in the region share the benefits and promises of the information society. People who are traditionally disadvantaged, such as the elderly and those on a low income, are further excluded from the information society. Such exclusion affects other social groups as well. This study creates a new digital inclusion index to measures the degree of inclusion of various disadvantaged groups in an information society. Data regarding seven disadvantaged groups were collected through a household survey. The index captures information about access, knowledge, usage, and affordability in information and communication technology of the disadvantaged in comparison with mainstream society.


Retelling the past using new technologies: A case study into the digitization of social work heritage material and the creation of a virtual exhibition by Ellen Daly & Neil Ballantyne

KEYWORDS: digitization, intellectual property rights, multimedia, museums, social history

ABSTRACT:  This article explains the rationale for the digitization of social work heritage material and the virtualization of an archived nondigital museum exhibit constructed by a Scottish Museum of Social Work. The project involved the ‘‘virtualization’’ of an existing social work museum exhibition on the migration of ‘‘Home Children’’ from  Scotland to Canada in the late 19th and early 20th century and the digital preservation of historical assets (both text and images) held by the contemporary social care organization involved in the migration of the children. This article discusses best practice in the preservation of historical assets, the methodology and technology used in the creation of the multimedia version of the exhibition, and the complexities of negotiating intellectual property rights in the transition from historical artifacts to new digital works.


Linking elderly to holistic care services through integrated communication technology: The personal emergency link service rendered by the senior citizen home safety association in Hong Kong by Barbara S. L. Leung, Timothy K. W. Ma, & Carmen K. M. Ng

KEYWORDS: elderly, holistic care, personal emergency response system, seniors

ABSTRACT:  Through a Personal Emergency Link system, the Senior Citizen  Home Safety Association has rendered 24-hour care to more than 111,000 service users in Hong Kong who are mostly vulnerable seniors and chronic invalids living alone or living with their elderly spouses=caregivers only. This article will describe how the Personal Emergency Link system is used to link seniors living in the community. Measures taken to prevent failure of the system will be described. With the use of different technology applications, many human touches and warm caregiving are rendered to the elderly and needy.


Evaluation of an online peer support network for adolescents with chronic kidney disease by David B. Nicholas, Gail Picone, Annette Vigneux, Kelly Mccormick, Andrew Mantulak, Michelle Mcclure & Radha Macculloch

KEYWORDS: adolescents, chronic kidney disease, online support

ABSTRACT:  This study reports on the development and evaluation of an online social support network for adolescents with chronic kidney disease. Twenty-four adolescents were enrolled in a six-month online intervention in which asynchronous and synchronous online peer support was facilitated. Online dialogue transcripts were analyzed, as were postintervention qualitative interviews with network participants. Findings identify both benefits and challenges of online social support for adolescents and provide guidelines for future support initiatives. The study supports online support as a valuable resource for adolescents with chronic kidney disease.


Using E-health programs to overcome barriers to the effective treatment of mental health and addiction problems by Peter Farvolden, John Cunningham, & Peter Selby

KEYWORDS: attrition, Internet, support groups, validation

ABSTRACT:  E-Health programs for mental illness and addictive behaviors have recently emerged as potentially useful self-help resources. Health care professionals will soon have the option of referring clients to free-to-end-user online, expert-moderated e-health programs as complementary means of assisting clients. Such programs will have significant implications for developing improved stepped models of care. This article describes various e-health programs and lessons learned related to access, promotion, user demographics, and patterns of use. In addition, validation procedures, effectiveness and attrition rates, fitting and tailoring, and qualitative analyses of social networks are described. It is difficult to validate e-health programs that are completely anonymous and do not require registration, personal interaction, or membership fees. As competition emerges in the budding e-health industry, best practice guidelines will need to be developed for collecting data and evaluating the utility of these programs.

Volume 27/2:  General Issue

Child Welfare Workers’ Adoption of Decision Support Technology by Kirk A. Foster and Arlene R. Stiffman

KEYWORDS: decision support technology; child welfare; diffusion of innovations

ABSTRACT:  Child welfare workers must process complex information in deciding to refer clients to appropriate mental health services.  Decision support systems (DSS) have been demonstrated in other fields to be an important tool, yet little research has been done in child welfare.  This study focused on the adoption of a specific DSS into child welfare practice.  Quantitative analysis was used to demonstrate the diffusion of innovation process among a sample of state child welfare workers, while qualitative analysis was used to explain the facilitators and barriers to DSS adoption.  Results indicate that for DSSs to be widely adopted in child welfare practice, they should be integrated into the referral system and include workers’ knowledge and experiences with referral resources.  For successful adoption, DSSs need to respect the natural logic and flow of worker interaction, as well as organizational constraints.


Internet Technology in Service of Personal Health Care Management: Patient Perspective by Gül Seçkin

KEYWORDS: Internet discussion groups, knowledge, participation, cancer

ABSTRACT: Internet technology has become an informational resource for most health care consumers. Online information, discussion and support groups, in the form of message boards, listservs, and chat rooms are emerging as parts of virtual self health care network. This paper examines the extent to which participation in online health discussion groups was reported to be helpful in increasing medical knowledge and in enhancing the participatory patient role of health care consumers in interaction with health care service professionals. Data for this study was collected from three hundred and fifty patients who participated in internet discussion groups for cancer patients. The findings of the study indicated the important impact of internet health discussion groups on health care management practices as perceived by health care consumers including empowerment through knowledge and proactive participation in cancer care management. This research contributes to understanding the patient perspective and assesses the perceived importance of internet groups by health care consumers.


A Longitudinal Study of Website Accessibility: Have Social Work Education Websites Become More Accessible? by Angela L. Curl & Deborah D. Bowers

KEYWORDS: Website accessibility, digital divide, Section 508, higher education

ABSTRACT:  This study (N = 45 schools) sought to determine the accessibility of baccalaureate social work program websites in 2003 and 2008 using Priority 1 checkpoints from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) 1.0 guidelines. Paired t-test results indicate that the mean accessibility scores of five of the nine items (plus the website accessibility scale as a whole) was statistically higher after five years. However, 75.6% of programs still had one or more Priority 1 accessibility barriers in 2008 and thus did not meet the lowest W3C accessibility guidelines. This highlights the need for more education about barriers to accessibility and methods for making websites more accessible.


Social Workers’ Use of the Internet and Email to Help Clients in Virginia by Takashi Ishizuki & J. James Cotter

KEYWORDS. Social workers, Internet, Email, Client

ABSTRACT:  A survey of a random sample of licensed social workers in Virginia showed 98.8% had Internet access in either their home or workplace. A comparison of this study with a study conducted in the early 2000s indicated more than 20% difference regarding email communication with clients and Internet use for work-related research. Social workers who actually used the Internet and email tended to expect a future increase in their use, in contrast with non-users. Stepwise multiple logistic regression analyses found age and type of agency (private/for-profit) as factors negatively related to have Internet access in the workplace, age and the reason “Email is not secure enough” as factors negatively related in the future email communication with clients among current non-users.


Multimedia CD:  Play Therapy Counseling Skills by Roxane L. Dufrene & Zoë Tanner

KEYWORDS:  Multimedia, CD, Play, Therapy, Counseling

ABSTRACT:  Multimedia CDs have become an important part of counseling education. Many educators recognize the value of CDs in training and methods of instruction. The purpose of this study was to develop an instructional CD and to survey counseling students’ perceptions of the CD. Participants included 71 counseling graduate students from two universities in the southern part of the United States. Students viewed the CD and completed a survey to assess their perceptions of the CD. Overall students’ perceptions were positive and they believed that the CD was a helpful tool in learning counseling skills.

BOOK REVIEW:  Online social support: The interplay of social networks and computer-mediated communication by A. Bambina Reviewed by Randy Basham


BOOK REVIEW:  Computer ethics: a case-based approach by R.N. Barger reviewed by Stephen M. Marson


APPLICATION REVIEW:  Journey Mapping (http://seed-ny.org/journeymapping.htm) reviewed by Dhira Crunkilton


APPLICATION REVIEW:  Mindjet MindManager Pro 7 (http://www.mindjet.com/) reviewed by Linda Brewer

Volume 27/3: General Issue


Web 2.0 Technologies: Facilitating Interaction in an Online Human Services Counseling Skills Course by Amanda J. Rockinson-Szapkiw & Victoria Walker.

KEYWORDS: Web 2.0, e-conferencing, 3-D virtual worlds, counseling skills, e-learning

ABSTRACT: In the face-to-face classroom, human services counseling educators rely upon highly interpersonal, interactive methods to teach clinical skills. Replicating these instructional methods in the asynchronous, text-based e-learning environment has been difficult and sometimes impossible. However, web-based technologies, specifically Web 2.0 technologies, may afford educators the opportunity to simulate and enhance the strengths of highly interpersonal and interactive methods of face-to-face clinical skill instruction. These authors demonstrate how a human services counseling skills course can be taught using Web 2.0 technologies. Most of the focus will be upon two synchronous applications:  3-D virtual worlds and web-conferencing. Implications for educators and recommendations for future research are provided.


Management Information Systems: Applications in Home Visiting Programs Designed to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect by Mary Kay Falconer, Terry Rhodes, Kristen Cotter Mena & Robert Reid

KEYWORDS: management information system, home visiting, child abuse and neglect, performance measurement, web-based reports

ABSTRACT:  Management information systems are proving to be a vital tool supporting voluntary long-term home visiting programs designed to prevent child abuse and neglect.  This paper describes key mechanisms in management information systems that serve multi-site programs based on the Healthy Families America model in Florida and Indiana.  The descriptions explain how the systems facilitate successful implementation of these programs as well as track progress towards achieving improved outcomes in child abuse and neglect, child health and development, parenting, and maternal life course.  Illustrations of a few key reports and analyses are presented and recommendations for ongoing improvement to these systems are offered.


Brief Reports

Using Distance Learning to Increase Literacy among TANF Participants by Rebecca Thomas

KEYWORDS: TANF, literacy, adult basic education, GED, employment, distance learning, online exercises.

ABSTRACT:  Technology and Education for Career Heights (Project TECH) was designed to help Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) participants enhance their literacy through distance learning as a means to promote job retention and career advancement. The evaluative research presented in this report was intended to gather information from the participants of Project TECH about their experience with distance learning training curriculum.   The report describes Project TECH and what happens when participants who are low income workers are given a computer, basic training software, Internet access and training coupled with instruction form a instructor who met with them face to face weekly and provided daily online coaching and instruction.   It highlights participants’ experience with online instruction and the use of computers in their homes, and concludes with lessons learned from the project. The information is useful for those wanting to design and develop a distance learning program to increase adult literacy for families that need to comply with TANF work requirements and other demands.  


Information technology, adaptation and innovation in nonprofit human service organizations by Rita S. Mano

KEYWORDS: Information technology, organizational innovation, adaptation

ABSTRACT:  This report examines how two measures of performance – adaptation and innovation – can be predicted by the use of digital communication, e.g., IT. It suggests that IT in non-profits offers strong leverage for adaptation but not for innovation.  This suggests that (a) the two measures are dissimilar in both their nature and their relevance to organizational performance in nonprofit settings; (b) that service organizations are more likely to use IT for adapting to change; and (c) it is probable that large and well-founded organizations will use IT for establishing innovations. 


Application Reviews

Genogram Analytics, Demo version reviewed by James Edwards

Book Reviews

NONPROFITS & TECHNOLOGY: EMERGING RESEARCH FOR USABLE KNOWLEDGE. M. Cortés & K.M. Rafter. Chicago:  Lyceum Books, Inc., 2007, pp. 189. ISBN:  978-1-933478-06-7.  Reviewed by Nancy Shank.


MORAL MACHINES:  TEACHING ROBOTS RIGHT FROM WRONG.  W. Wallach & C. Allen.  New York:  Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 275, ISBN:  9-780195-374049.  Reviewed by Carol J. Williams.


PSYCHOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF CYBERSPACE: THEORY, RESEARCH, APPLICATIONS.  A. Barak (editor). New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008, pp. 298. ISBN:978-0-521-87301-7 (hardcover) and ISBN: 987-0-521-69464-3 (paperback).  Reviewed by Jerry Finn.


DISTANCE COUNSELING: EXPANDING THE COUNSELOR’S REACH AND IMPACT.  J. F. Malone, R. M. Miller, and G. R.Walz (Eds.).  Ann Arbor: Counseling Outfitters, LLC, 2007, pp. 198.  ISBN:  978-0-9795668-0-6. Reviewed by Pamela A. Clarkson Freeman.

Volume 27/4: General Issue


Internet Addiction: Debating the Diagnosis by Jennifer Czincz & Regina Hechanova

KEYWORDS:  Internet Use; Addiction; Mental Health

ABSTRACT:  While the Internet has revolutionized the process of information-gathering and communication in society, there has been mounting concern in the literature as to the effect of the medium on the individual. Researchers appear torn as to whether an individual can actually develop an addiction to the Internet. This report will review this controversy in detail, including proposed definitional criteria for Problematic Internet Use (PIU), explanatory theories of the manifestation of PIU, measures of PIU, and groups with a higher vulnerability of developing PIU. The report will conclude by identifying gaps in the literature, areas for future research, and implications for human service agencies and treatment providers.


Computer-Assisted Sensate Focus:  Integrating Technology with Sex Therapy Practice by Chad M. Coren, Sanjay R. Nath, & Maurice Prout

KEYWORDS:  Computer-Assisted Therapy, Computer-Assisted Sex Therapy, Computer-Assisted Sensate Focus, Computerized Sex Therapy, Computer Technology and Sensate Focus

ABSTRACT:  It is well established that computer technology can be ethically, legally, usefully and efficaciously integrated with the psychosocial treatment of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. There is, however, a paucity of literature regarding how these applications could be applied to sex therapy. This article will briefly review the adaptation of computer technology to mental health treatment, provide a rationale for using computer applications in sex therapy, and demonstrate how computer technology could be applied to Masters and Johnson’s sensate focus technique. The Sensate Focus Prototype (an Internet-delivered therapeutic module) presented below is a working application designed for use by psychotherapists and researchers.


Multimedia Biographies:  A Reminiscence and Social Stimulus Tool for Persons with Cognitive Impairment by Karen Louise Smith, Masashi Crete-Nishihata, Thecla Damianakis, Elsa Marziali, & Ronald Michael Baecker

KEYWORDS.  Multimedia, video, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, memory, reminiscence, social stimulation. 

ABSTRACT.  The Multimedia Biography (MB) tells the story of the life of an elderly person with a cognitive impairment in motion picture format. The MB combines family photographs, film clips, audio narration, and music.  It is intended to be screened on an ongoing basis to provide spaces for reminiscence and communication between cognitively impaired persons and their families. Using a production process in which we collaborated with family caregivers, we created 12 MBs for persons having Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment. This article describes our production and screening processes.  We also share lessons learned from the MB research to assist practitioners, families or researchers who wish to use similar technologies and processes for eliciting and sharing life stories. 


Searching for Barriers to Adoption of the Videophone in a Hospice Setting by P. Whitten, B. Holtz, & S. Nazione

KEYWORDS:  Telehospice, Adoption, Leadership, Change

ABSTRACT:  copy from revised version.

Abstract:  Hospice services care for millions of Americans at the end of their life. To improve this care, videophones have been introduced. However, the use of videophones is often not readily accepted by hospice nurses. This study used three theories, surveys, and focus groups with 25 hospice employees to investigate why there was a lack of acceptance. The survey predicted the videophones would be adopted.  However, this was not the case, so focus groups were conducted to expand understanding of non-acceptance.  This research demonstrates that leadership, context, and perceptions of the technology were key features effecting videophone acceptance. Future research should further examine these barriers and address the need for new survey instruments regarding non-utilization in this context.


Implementing a knowledge management system in a school of social work:  The possibilities, challenges and lessons learned by Kimberly Stauss, Tommy Milford, and Vaughn DeCoster,

KEYWORDS: knowledge management, social work, wiki, information management 

ABSTRACT:  Managing emerging scientific, professional and applied practice knowledge has become increasingly more important in the 21st century because economic and social connections in organizations are becoming more complex, associated with greater global connectivity.  One approach to this growing complexity and emerging need involves the development of a technology-based knowledge management (KM) system. This paper describes one human service organization’s attempt to implement and capture the complex knowledge needs and requirements for a KM system. The implementation described is in the third year of a five year process. The challenges when incorporating such reorganization will be addressed.  This case example also illustrates the complexities, the possibilities, and the lessons learned while implementing a KM system within a school of social work, and subsequently its capacity to be transferred to human service organizations. 


Brief Report

New Media and Social Networks: Considerations from Addictions Treatment Clients by Michael Wolf-Branigin

KEYWORDS: Web 2.0; New media; Complexity; Social networks; Social work; Addictions

ABSTRACT:  Web-based (2.0) media will play an increasing role in substance abuse treatment. Two focus groups identified initial barriers and potential uses within a population living below the median income. Client suggestions included using different approaches to service delivery based on a person’s access to Web 2.0 media. Preliminary results indicated that contrary to the staff members’ opinions, the majority of clients appeared to have sufficient Internet access and the requisite social networking skills in order to participate in online interventions. Future research should focus on inquire on using games as a potential mode of online service delivery, on the potential of the various forms of social networking, and whether classism exists between client and staff perceptions.