Abstracts of Volume One of Computers in Human Services, 1985

Volume 1(1), 1985

Mental Health Computing in the 1980s: General Information Systems and Clinical Documentation by James L. Hedlund, Bruce W. Vieweg, and Dong W. Cho

ABSTRACT: This is the first of a two-part state-of-the-art review concerning current trends in mental health computing. It deals principally with general mental health information systems, the emerging role of microcomputers and general applications software, computerizing medical records, and computer support for quality assurance programs.

The Future of Human Service Information Technology: An Essay on the Number 42 by Walter F. LaMendola

ABSTRACT: The immediate future of human services and information technology is examined in terms of their unifying principles and potentials. Effects on human relationships are used as a departure point to forecast changes in professional training and work and changes in the problems people experience. Professional training will incorporate high skill levels in the use and application of information technology. Changes in professional work may include more home based work and more automation of professional tasks. Changes in the problems people experience are addressed in four areas: (I) near consequences of life in an intellect intensive society (2) human services subject to dramatic improvement; (3) information technology as a "male" technology; and (4) the growth in social support networks. Suggestions are made to explore the conjunction of human service work and information technology.

Connecting Clinical Information Processing With Computer Support by Raymond W. Carlson

ABSTRACT: Clinically oriented computer systems require compatibility with the information processing that typifies clinical work. This paper summarizes some of the research that can be applied to such processing and uses the summary to suggest likely errors. Alternative means to correct for such errors are also summarized leading to an emphasis on decision support systems that integrate human and computer information processing strengths. An example concerning long-term mental illness is used for illustration.

Decision Support Systems in the Human Services: Discovering Limits to a Promising Technology by Lynn Harold Vogel

ABSTRACT: This article discusses an area of increasing interest to | those working in human services organizations: the design, development and use of computer systems to support decision making within the organization. The author reviews the conceptual background of "decision support systems," and discusses the importance of understanding decision making processes and decision structures as a prelude to the introduction of computer support.

Expert Systems: Artificial Intelligence for Professional Decisions by Dick Schoech, Hal Jennings, Lawrence L. Schkade, & Chrisan Hooper-Russell

ABSTRACT: A variety of organizational computing applications, such as information systems, currently assist human service professionals in making decisions. This paper concerns a class of computing applications, called expert systems, which have evolved from the field of artificial intelligence. Expert systems are computer programs which use inference schemes to apply generalized human expertise to the facts of a specific case. Expert system concepts, potentials and implications are presented along with the issues involved in their development and use. A simple expert system, written in BASIC, is included to illustrate the concepts. Expert systems offer great potential for assisting human service professionals in making complex decisions.

Computer Managed Instruction: An Application in Teaching Introductory Statistics by Walter H. Hudson

ABSTRACT: This paper describes a computer managed instruction package that may be of use or interest to those who teach introductory or advanced statistics. It is primarily a resource paper which describes the instructional package and provides anecdotal information concerning its performance and student responses to its use over two semesters.

A Teaching Model for the Use of Computers in Direct Practice by Aaron M. Brower and Paula S. Nurius

ABSTRACT: The purpose of this brief report is twofold: to provide one teaching approach designed to help students and clinicians use the computing facilities available in their agencies to aid their clinical practice, and to highlight issues central to this training. The teaching model presented is based on a four-step process: Using the computer as a tool, the student moves through the process of identifying relevant practice based questions, to operationalizing these questions, to analyzing the data collected, and finally to interpreting and applying the results. This teaching innovation and our positive experience with it offers further support for the place of computers in a clinical practice curriculum and serves as a useful reference to other individuals, institutions, or agencies that are planning to offer similar training.

Volume 1(2), 1985

Mental Health Computing in the 1980s: II Clinical Applications by James L. Hedlund, Bruce W. Vieweg, and Dong W. Cho

ABSTRACT: This is the second of a two-part state-of-the-art review concerning current trends in mental health computing. It deals principally with special clinical applications in the areas of automated psychological testing, computer interviews, computerized diagnosis, clinical consultation, computer-aided instruction, computerized treatment intervention, and user acceptance.

MERGE: Computer Simulations of Social Policy Process by John P. Flynn

ABSTRACT: Computer simulations of social welfare policy processes allow us to exploit the power of learning by doing and, at the same time, avoid the ethical and practical limitations of applying theoretical "experiments" in the field. This paper describes the application of a package of simulations, called MERGE, which simulates four different theoretical explanations of process in a scenario at the local level. MERGE is based upon a general simulation system, called EXPERSIM, available from CONDUIT, a non-profit organization dedicated to the distribution of computer-assisted instructional materials.

The Role of the Federal Government in Social Service Systems Development by Robert E. Neilson

ABSTRACT: The article traces the past, present and future role of the Federal Government and other actors in the human service systems community in the development of social service systems. It presents the roles of the Federal government, business, professional organizations, State and local governments and the "information entrepreneur" in advancing the state-of-the-art in social service systems applications. Although the Federal government will continue to act as a catalyst for systems development, the "information entrepreneur'' and other actors in the human service community will play greater roles.

Microcomputers and the Individual Practitioner: A Review of the Literature in Psychology and Psychiatry by Karen B. Levitan, Elizabeth A. Willis, and Jeffrey Vogelgesang

ABSTRACT: This paper presents the findings of a literature review conducted from December 1983 to January 1984, exploring the microcomputer uses and needs of individual practitioners in psychology and psychiatry. The review covers an overview and history of information technology requirements of the practitioner community and discusses hardware and software systems, as well as issues and barriers associated with utilization. The literature indicates that mental health practitioners are just beginning to awaken to the benefits of microcomputers to assist in their private practices, but generally do not recognize the degree to which they rely on information as a resource for conducting their clinical and administrative tasks.

Success Is Possible: One Agency's Experience With a Vendor by Sandy DeJacimo, David Kropp, and Joseph Zefran

ABSTRACT: Omni House, a nonprofit youth service agency, describes how they successfully computerize their manual information system with the help of a full-service vendor. Following approval by the Board and the Executive Director and an analysis of their information needs, a feasibility study was performed which led to the selection of the vendor. The benefits of an in-house microcomputer and the help that the right vendor can provide are discussed. Suggestions for duplicating their successful experience to other agencies are presented.

Volume 1(3), 1985

Factors in Clinicians' Resistance to Automation in Mental Health by Allen L. Hammer and Matthew G. Hile

ABSTRACT: This paper is a review of the recent literature on resistance to automation by professionals in mental health. The variables identified as important factors in resistance are organized into structural variables (at the individual, group, and environment levels) and process variables. Current trends in automation are also discussed regarding their potential for affecting future acceptance.

Organizing Routinely Collected Computerized Data Bases for Evaluations of Social Care Systems by Paul James, Stephen J. Finch, and David Fanshel

ABSTRACT: This article describes statistical techniques for analyzing data collected by management information systems developed to gather information about children in foster care. The techniques permit comparison of the performance of service providers in arranging for the discharge of children from care. The techniques are applicable to data bases developed for all service systems where human beings are being provided total care. The approach involves the application of both traditional statistical techniques and recently developed techniques of exploratory data analysis.

Designing Information Systems for Hospital Social Work Management by Mary D. Romano, George S. Conklin, and Dena Fisher

ABSTRACT: This article will identify five critical decisions and the component factors needed for their resolution when hospital social work managers consider computerization. The five decisions are: I) manual v. computer information systems, 2) mainframe v. personal computers; 3) purchased v. "home-grown" software; 4) autocracy v. participatory democracy; and 5) whether computerized social work data collection systems should ever be abandoned.

Computer Use in Psychometric Assessment: Evaluating Benefits and Potential Problems by Kenneth W. Merrell

ABSTRACT: The expansion of computer technology has created many possibilities for computer applications in the area of psychological testing and assessment. Test taking, scoring, and report writing can all be done with the assistance of computer technology. Although applying the new technology in psychometric assessment can reduce costs to agencies and clients, make better use of professional time, and assist in delivering better services to clients, there are also some potential problems that need to be considered. This article evaluates the ways that computers can be used in psychometric assessment, points out the benefits of such use, and considers problems that may be encountered with these uses.

Computer-Assisted Psychological Assessment by Ronald R. Hart and Michael A. Goldstein

ABSTRACT: The impact of computer-assisted psychological assessment on respondents was compared to traditional paper/pencil psychometric administration procedure. Findings indicated no significant difference between administration methods on respondents' self-reported anxiety, electromyograph monitored stress, or task satisfaction. Moreover, computer-assisted assessment was found to be more speed efficient and, seemingly, more conducive to eliciting respondent openness to test items. Results are enlightening, but future investigations are needed to refine and discern the value of these preliminary findings.

Volume 1(4), 1985

Automating the Psychiatric Record for Care Review Purposes: A Feasibility Analysis by Mary Jane Alexander, Carole Siegel, and Chris Muttaugh

ABSTRACT: A survey was conducted in 32 facilities to determine the types and sources of information used in care review in order to develop a meaningful minimum data set for quality assurance purposes. The adequacy of medical record information for review and the feasibility of automating it depended on the nature of the review task. While advances in technology may assist in structuring the documentation of care to make reviews more feasible, it is essential that the field of psychiatry clarify the clinical decision process in order for effective review to take place.

Computer Simulation of Human Service Program Evaluations by William M.K. Trochim and James E. Davis

ABSTRACT: Computer simulations in human service research are useful for (I) improving student understanding of basic research principles and analytic techniques, and (2) investigating the effects of problems which arise in the implementation of research. This paper describes these uses of simulations for the context of human service program evaluation. Simple mathematical models are described for the three most commonly used human service outcome evaluation designs-the pretest-posttest randomized experiment, the pretest-posttest nonequivalent groups design, and the regression-discontinuity design. The models are translated into a single computer program which can be used to conduct the simulations, and examples of the use of this program are provided. The paper concludes that simulations need to utilize experimental design principles when rigorous, definitive results are desired, but that even when this is not possible or desirable, simulations may have great potential value as an exploratory or teaching tool in human service research.

Computer Work Skills Training for Persons with Developmental Disabilities by Thomas T. Saka

ABSTRACT: Research has shown that persons with Developmental Disabilities (DD) can hold a wide range of jobs, given the proper training and placement. The computer, the technological tool of the decade, has been used successfully in the education of persons with handicaps. Five subjects with DD were selected for this six month study and trained to use the microcomputer in performing basic data entry and word processing tasks. Four of the five subjects were placed in computer-related occupations following the training period.

Using Microcomputers to Help Staff Reduce Violent Behavior by James M. Gardner

ABSTRACT: The Clinical Decision Support System was developed to generate a client related data base from which to access management information with regard to intervention strategies on an individual, group, and institution wide basis. The system operates by accessing information in six client related areas, subjecting it to various statistical routines which can be user-directed or run independently, and then providing this information to assist staff to develop effective and efficient interventions which improve client care and significantly reduce costs. Two applications of the system are presented with respect to reducing violent behavior.

Advantages and Problems with Merging Data Bases by Ram A. Cnaan

ABSTRACT: This article presents the Israeli experience with merging different computerized files using a unique identifier. The advantages and disadvantages of this identifier are examined. Four types of problems are identified and some examples of use of an I.D. number as identifier are given. The desirability of merging files and confidentiality issues are also discussed.

The Current and Potential Uses of Computer Assisted Interactive Videodisc in the Education of Social Workers by Patncia Lynett

ABSTRACT: Although the use of technology to improve education is not a new idea, until recently there have been few notable successes. During the past five years, a learning system was designed that incorporates several technologies, including the videodisc, computer, and monitor, to accomplish interactive individualized learning in several audio and visual modes. This paper describes experiences in the use of learning system courseware for new-hire training, and continuing education. The paper concludes by raising issues which will affect the future of interactive learning through technology in social work education.

Microcomputer Applications and Their Initial Effects on a Nonprofit Organization: A Case Study by Catherine Foster Alter

ABSTRACT: Findings from an exploratory case study describe microcomputer applications developed during the first year after introduction in a local office of a state social services department. The ten applications produced by a single person working less than quarter time had impacts on the structure and operations of the organization. In regard to performance of its information handling, the microcomputer improved the efficiency, but not the quality of the system. This suggests that user developed microcomputer applications are not the best method of approaching information systems development. For those who must proceed in this manner because of limited resources, however, there are some impressive, but limited, gains.

A Computer Competence Module for Baccalaureate Level Work Students by Ira C. Colby

ABSTRACT: Baccalaureate social work programs are faced with the dilemma of integrating computer-based learning into existing curricula. This report describes a nine classroom hour experiential research elective in computer technology for social workers. The class provides an opportunity for the student to develop beginning abilities to organize and manage data into a format for computer application. Class assignments focus on a social welfare agency's daily operations. Copies of class materials are available from the author.

Computer Simulation of Community Mental Health Centers by Gary B. Cox, David Erickson, Hubert E. Armstrong, and Philip Harrison (Work in Progress Report-no abstract)

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