Abstracts of Volume 13 of Computers in Human Services, 1996


Volume 13(1), 1996

Mapping Hypermedia Informational Space Utilization by David A. Patterson, Myung-Shin Lee, and Eric Evers

ABSTRACT: Hypermedia computer-based educational software allows for user-directed, non-linear, exploration of the informational content of an educational program. Data from an empirical evaluation of a hypermedia educational program (HyperAxis II) were used in the development of a procedure for generation of three dimensional maps of hypermedia informational space utilization. This procedure, which we refer to as hypermedia utilization mapping, represents a means by which software developers and instructors can view users' cumulative interaction with the educational content of hypermedia. Applications of the hypermedia utilization mapping in hypermedia software development, teaching, and human services information systems are presented.


Computer-based self-help groups: On-line recovery for addictions by Jerry Finn

ABSTRACT: The growth of the self-help movement and the rapid expansion of computer communications has led to a variety of computer-based self-help/mutual aid (CSHMA) groups, including computer-based 12-Step groups for problems with alcohol, narcotics, eating, gambling, compulsive sexuality, relationships, smoking, and others. This paper introduces professionals to this emerging resource and provides preliminary data about the extent of use and participation patterns of these CSHMA groups. In addition, the potential benefits and problems of CSHMA groups for people with addictions are discussed. Benefits include greater access to support, diffusion of dependency, meeting the needs of those with esoteric concerns, reduction of barriers related to social status cues, encouraging participation of reluctant members, promoting relational communication, and enhancing communication of those with interpersonal difficulties. Potential disadvantages, including destructive interactions, lack of clear and accountable leadership, promoting social isolation, limited access to noncomputer-using populations, and lack of research about benefits and user satisfaction are also discussed.


Computer-based testing in social work education: A preliminary exploration by Jackie D. Sieppert and Judy Krysik

ABSTRACT: This paper reviews current research dealing with the potential benefits and limitations of computer-based testing for social work education. It adds to the existing knowledge base by reporting the results of a survey completed by social work graduate and undergraduate students regarding their experiences and perceptions of computer-based testing. Recommendations are made for further development of computer-based tests in social work education.


The challenge of IT by Mike Hughes and Shani Fancett

ABSTRACT: Barnardo's is a UK child care (non-governmental) organization, established in 1866. It has recently embarked on a major program of information technology development to enable sound practice and management information to be made available in the most flexible form throughout its 170 decentralized projects. A process of search and decision-making is described and the difficulties highlighted. Those faced by a non-statutory agency are significantly different from those confronted by the public social service departments, and they are explored in some depth. It is hoped that the lessons which have emerged will be of value to others facing similar challenges.


Volume 13(2), 1996

The Help Desk: Its Design, Functions and Effectiveness by Nachman Sharon, PhD

ABSTRACT: (to be added upon publication)


Utilization of aggregate information in social work: deductive and inductive strategies by Mariam E. Cohen and Gail K. Auslander

ABSTRACT: While computer technology enables social work departments to generate valuable aggregate data, utilization of that information has often been problematic and infrequent. This paper presents alternative utilization strategies based on a framework of deductive as well as inductive reasoning processes. The deductive strategy involves interpreting data on the basis of pre-determined professional standards as related to specific decision tasks. The inductive strategy involves the utilization of findings for further development and formulation of relevant ways to use such information. For each process, we first define the strategy in the context of computerized information systems, illustrate the application of the strategy and demonstrate the actual utilization of information so derived. The work is based on our experience in developing a countrywide information system for hospital social work departments in Israel.


Unraveling social workers' ambivalence toward computer technology: An analysis of the attitudes of social work students towards computers and social work practice by Daniel J. Finnegan

ABSTRACT: This study investigates the extent to which social work students view the computer as a potentially useful tool for their future careers as practitioners. During a three year period one hundred sixty one graduate students at a large social work program in the western United States anonymously completed a survey instrument after completing approximately one-half of their degree requirements. Two major areas are covered in the instrument: actual computer use and interest; and interest in learning about computer use for social work practice. Results suggest that the respondents' generally view computer technology as an important tool for social work. Further, the extent to computers are considered useful is directly to their view of the extent to which an agency's standard operating procedures are important to social work practice and indirectly related to their view of the dehumanizing effect of computer technology.


Compassion by Computer: Contrasting the supportiveness of computer-mediated and face-to-face interactions by Nancy Weinberg

ABSTRACT: This research investigated whether computer-mediated communication can provide the same type of supportive atmosphere as face-to-face communication. Participants included 26 same sex pairs, 13 pairs were randomly assigned to interact face-to face and 13 by computer. During the exchanges one member of each pair discussed a current concern he or she was experiencing and at the conclusion of the interaction he or she rated the interaction on a Supportiveness Scale, Helpfulness Scale and Callousness scale. No significant differences were found between the conditions on these overall rating scales. There was however, a tendency for members of the computer condition to report that they were less guarded in what they revealed about themselves and viewed their partners as less judgmental. Possible explanations of these data are discussed.


Volume 13(3), 1996 (Fall 96)

Performance support systems: integrating information technology under practitioner control by Dick Schoech

ABSTRACT: Improving worker performance by providing better information to human service practitioners has been a consistent goal of management. However, management information systems and computer-based training programs do not typically provide information in a format consistent with how we work. Today, low cost information technology (IT) allows us to structure text, sound, graphics, pictures, and video in more supportive ways. Systems that integrate IT under user control to provide a supportive information environment are called performance support systems (PSSs). This article presents the concept of PSSs and the processes and issues associated with their development. Screens of a comprehensive, generic PSS are included to illustrate the concepts presented. PSSs are especially important when agencies have satisfied many of their basic computing needs, for example, word processing, accounting, and database management.


Re-Designing a Clinical Information System: A Description of the Process in a Human Service Agency by Mary Elizabeth Collins, Irwin Epstein, Oscar Barbarin, and Sue Ann Savas,

ABSTRACT: Although much has been written in the literature about the design of information systems for human service agencies, there is little information available about the re-design of currently existing systems. To fill this gap, this article describes one agency's effort to review its computerized clinical information system and make decisions about needed modifications. Several qualitative and quantitative data gathering techniques were conducted to support decision-making. These methods, findings, and the resulting decisions are reported. Implications for other agencies contemplating a review of their information systems are also discussed.


Influence of Director's Attitude and Involvement with Agency Computer Use by Kathryn L. Gerstman

ABSTRACT : The purpose of this study was to ascertain whether director's attitude contributes to extent of computerization in human service organizations (HSOs). Data were collected from 156 HSOs in an urban South Florida county. The agency director or key manager completed the mailed, self-administered questionnaire. Due to a trimodal distribution, agencies were categorized by caseload into small, medium, or large. The findings support director's attitude/involvement as a fairly strong predictor of the extent of computerization in small agencies. Director's attitude/involvement is important to a lesser degree for computer use at medium and large agencies.


Strategic use of community database for planning and practice by Julian Chow and Claudia Coulton

Abstract: The recent interest in community-based practice calls for intervention strategies that are based on careful planning and thorough assessment of the ecological conditions in today's urban neighborhoods. Having access to accurate and updated community data is an essential tool. This article discusses principles for the development and strategic use of a community database created in a northern industrial city. It is argued that such a community database system must go beyond a technological focus and should assist in building a community infrastructure. Applications of the system for planning and practice at the local level are presented.


Anatomy of a Strategic Information System in Non-Profit Community Health Care by Santosh K. Misra and Donald G. Golden

ABSTRACT: The design and development of an information system supporting a loosely organized group of 6 health care and related organizations is discussed. Each organization is functionally independent but cooperates with 5 other organizations to implement a common system. The reasons for the cooperation can be traced in large part to the non-profit service nature of the organizations themselves, and to the resource--constrained environment in which they operate. This article discusses the conceptual architecture of the information system with brief descriptions of the rationality of various features incorporated in the system design. The basic purpose of the information system is to provide information needed by managers and professionals, as opposed to data processing systems that perform arithmetic for accounting activities.


Volume 13(4), 1996

Using Interactive Multimedia to Educate High-Risk Patients about AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases by Andrea L. Seidner, Thomas A. Burling, and Gary D. Marshall

ABSTRACT: Military veterans in a residential rehabilitation program for homelessness and substance dependence (N = 161) received education regarding Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDS) via an interactive videodisc course (IVD) or a standard, didactic health class (HC). Knowledge about AIDS and STDS significantly increased with both teaching methods, with no difference found between the methods for either course. Similarly, in both the IVD and HC conditions, AIDS attitudes ratings reflected some increased tolerance towards persons with AIDS. Participants rated both courses very highly, with no clear preference indicated for either method. Although some problems exist with interactive multimedia technology (variable quality of existing software, logistical problems in some settings, etc.), using this method to educate high-risk substance abuse inpatients about AIDS and STDS appears to be a viable alternative to more traditional didactic methods.


A General Introduction to The COMPSYCH Software Information Service by Peter A. Hornby


Software Listing from COMPSYCH by Peter A. Hornby


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