Abstracts of Volume 21 (1/2, 3, 4) of the Journal of Technology in Human Services

Volume 21 (4), 2004


Across Domains in Human Service Practice by David A. Patterson Randall E. Basham

KEYWORDS: data visualization, spreadsheets, surface plots, practice evaluation, program evaluation

ABSTRACT:  Spreadsheets are underutilized evaluative tools.  Spreadsheets are applicable for data collection, statistical analysis, and graphical representation.  This paper demonstrates the utilization of spreadsheet-generated data visualization procedures in the graphical representation of change across domains of human services.  Also presented are models for graphical representation of change over time. The data visualization procedures discussed include standard deviation enhanced line graphs  (SDELG), area graphs, and surface plots. Three domains of human service evaluation well-suited to use of spreadsheet graphical representational tools are practice evaluation, program evaluation, and the policy outcome evaluation.  

Online Therapeutic Social Service Provision (Therap-pc): A State of the Art Review by David Helton

KEYWORDS:  online therapy, internet counseling, online social services, therap-pc

ABSTRACT:  Many questions being posed in the fields of social science, psychology, and counseling with regard to provision of mental health services online have led to theoretical discussions of pros and cons of this new method of practice.  The most prevalent clinically oriented questions about online intervention include: Can online services be considered therapy or even therapeutic? Can warmth, empathy and therapeutic alliance be effectively conveyed online? Is online communication and relational development different than face-to-face? This article will review issues of theory, research, policy and practice related specifically to the provision of “therap-pc” or therapeutic social services via the Internet.  

Consumer Access to Agency Websites: Our Best Foot Forward? By Robert Vernon & Darlene Lynch

Key Words:  website design, literacy, disability, language, interface

ABSTRACT:  One hundred social service agency websites were examined to find out how easily consumers could access posted information on them.   Each website was analyzed for multiple language availability, reading simplicity, reading comprehension, and disability access.  This study found substantial barriers to website access for social service consumers.  The overwhelming majority of agency websites failed one or more accessibility measures.  Design issues that will make website access easier such as disability standards, policy suggestions and best practices are discussed.    

Evaluation of Electronic Discussion Forums in Social Work Diversity Education: A Comparison of Anonymous and Identified Participation by Elizabeth M. Bertera, Ph.D. and Melissa B. Littlefield, Ph.D

KEYWORDS:  Web based education, online dialogue, cultural competency, anonymity, diversity.

ABSTRACT   Two Web-based forums for discussing diversity issues were evaluated as part of graduate social work education.  Data included surveys from 91 students as well as aggregate Web use information.  Outcomes included perceived learning benefits related to cultural competency, improved relationships and benefits of anonymous vs. identified participation in the forums. We found that 1) 75% of the students reported benefits related to learning cultural competency; 2) Just over 60% experienced positive impacts on relationships with classmates; 3) 54% believed anonymity improved honesty during forum dialogues; however, students who participated in the author-identified forums perceived significantly more perceived learning benefits related to cultural competency than those who participated in the anonymous forums.  4) Over one-third of students improved their perceived technological competence as a result of participating in the forums.  We conclude that online forums can serve as a useful adjunct to achieving cultural competency among social work students.

With a Little help from my Friends: Children the Internet and Social Support by Jennifer G. Tichon and Margaret Shapiro

KEYWORDS: Children, Adolescent, Social Support, Self-Help, Internet

ABSTRACT:  This study documents the types and extent of social support messages exchanged by children and adolescents who participated in a computer-based support group.  Using qualitative content analysis, the electronic mail posted in a 3-month period on a support listserv for young siblings of children with chronic health needs were observed and described.   The content of the postings sent to Sibkids was analyzed to identify themes in how the young people used the listserv for support.  Examples of social support types identified on the site are described.  The largest percentage of these messages offered social companionship and emotional or informational support.  Tangible assistance was not offered.  The implications of this study for social support researchers and human service professionals are discussed.

Predicting Child Physical Abuse Recurrence: Comparison of a Neural Network to Logistic Regression by Christopher W. Flaherty & David A. Patterson

KEYWORDS: child physical abuse, neural networks, logistic regression, outcome prediction, ROC curve analysis

ABSTRACT:  The present study explored the potential of an artificial neural network to improve prediction of recurrences of child physical abuse. Conducted on electronic data file compiled by the U.S. Air Force’s central registry of child abuse reports, selected variables pertaining to all child physical abuse reports received from 1990-2000 (N=5612) were examined. Thirteen predictor variables and five interaction terms were identified for analysis. The neural network ultimately did not outperform an alternative method, binary logistic regression.

Volume 21 (3), 2004


Computer-assisted Screening and Intervention for Alcohol Problems in Primary Care by Stephen F. Butler, Emil Chiauzzi, Jonas I. Bromberg, Simon H. Budman, David P. Buono, Inflexxion, Newton, MA


KEYWORDS: computer intervention, alcohol screening, primary care, multimedia


ABSTRACT:  The effectiveness of a bilingual (English/Spanish) computer-assisted alcohol screening/intervention for hazardous and harmful alcohol use, the Health Habits Survey (HHS) was tested in primary care settings.  Assessment-only patients were compared with patients exposed to the HHS.  Of the 2053 recruited, 151 (7.4%) screened positive on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) and were re-contacted six months later for follow-up.  Significant alcohol reduction was observed in both conditions.  No between-group differences were observed. Computer-assisted screening and intervention are feasible in primary care settings and may be a realistic provider-extender when traditional screening is absent or inconsistently implemented.


Mental Health and Substance Abuse Screening in Primary Care by Matthew G. Hile


KEYWORDS: automated assessment, screening, primary care, mental health, substance abuse


ABSTRACT:  An automated screening system for substance abuse and mental health problems was developed and implemented in a rural primary care clinic. Eighty-nine patients were assessed with this system. The incidence of identified problems, 35% in total, was consistent with that found in previous studies of patients in general and medical settings. Additionally, over half of the patients assessed felt at least some need for mental health or substance abuse treatment. Nonetheless, because of the staff’s concerns over patient privacy, impeding patient flow, and the physician’s perceived ability to adequately identify these problems without assistance, the system was not adopted.


Social Support and Health among Senior Internet Users: Results of an Online Survey by Jeffrey G. Noel and Joel Epstein


KEYWORDS: Internet, Survey, Seniors, Social Support


ABSTRACT:  There is some disagreement as to whether the Internet has a positive or negative impact on social connection and well-being for older adults. Using an online survey, we assessed self-reported social support, health, and Internet use patterns among users over fifty years of age. In a comparison of highly social Internet users versus low-social users, we found that high-social users spent more time on-line and reported more physical and mental health problems. However, the groups did not differ in amount of or satisfaction with social support they received. Implications of these results are discussed.

Software Reviews

·         BARN by Steve Marson

·         HIV/AIDS  by Sheri Fairchild

·         From Mad to Worse by Paul Smokowski

·         Conflict Management by Paul Smokowski

·         Smart Team by John Sougstad

·         Team Up To Save Lives by Bhavana Pahwa

Book Reviews

·        School Counselor.com by Elissa Gifford

 Web Site Reviews

·        Introduction by Darlene Lynch & Robert Vernon

·        A Brief Guide to Advocacy Web Resources for Human Service Professionals by John McNutt and Jerry Finn

·        Specific Advocacy Websites for Populations at Risk by Sherry L. Edwards

Volume 21(1/2), 2003

Introduction to the Special Issue on Technology-Assisted Delivery of School Based Mental Health Services:  Defining School Social Work for the 21st Century, Edited by Bhavana A. Pahwa – MA, LMSW


Computer Simulation and Virtual Reality: Enhancing the Practice of School Social Work by Paul R. Smokowski & Katie Hartung


KEYWORDS:  Simulation, Computer-Assisted Learning, Skills Training, Health Promotion, Prevention


ABSTRACT:  Computer-simulation and virtual reality (VR) are two sophisticated computer applications that have great potential to enhance school social work practice. Computer simulation and VR technologies have been harnessed for entertainment and business purposes, but their power for teaching pro-social skills to children and adolescents has not been adequately utilized. This article discusses current developments in applying computer simulation and virtual reality to the prevention and treatment of mental health problems. A number of computer simulation and VR programs are reviewed, barriers to implementation are discussed, and recommendations for school social work practice are proposed.


Using Biofeedback to Enhance Interventions in Schools by Tish Matuszek and Joan Rycraft


KEYWORDS: Strengths, stress management, student, children, biofeedback


ABSTRACT:  The purpose of this paper is to introduce biofeedback technology to the school social worker as an efficacious intervention for stress/stress related disorders in children whether the stressor is behavioral, psychological, or physiological. Biofeedback has few caveats and presents an opportunity to use technology that is at once appealing to the student and reliable for the practitioner. This intervention moves the practitioner away from the medical model of treatment (a crisis model) to a learning model that is conducive to a strengths perspective intervention. A model for successful biofeedback intervention, advantages, and disadvantages of biofeedback in schools are included in the discussion.


Bringing Technology to School: An Online Resource Guide for the School Social Worker by Elissa D. Giffords


KEYWORDS: Internet resources; school social work; human service professionals


ABSTRACT : The Internet can assist social workers and other human service professionals to obtain information that may potentially benefit both themselves and their clients. There is little doubt among those who are familiar with the Internet that this electronic medium has revolutionized the way we communicate and access knowledge. This article provides school social workers and other human service professionals with links to resources that can be incorporated into practice by offering specific web pages related to school social work practice.


Online mentoring: programs and suggested practices as of February 2001 by Jayne Cravens


KEYWORDS: online mentoring, technology, online volunteering, telementor, virtual mentoring, e-mentor


ABSTRACT:  Online mentoring—creating a supportive, caring, online friendship between an adult volunteer and a protégé—is one of the most popular forms of online volunteering, and new programs are launched regularly, usually involving adult mentors and youth protégés. From December 1996 through February 2001, the Virtual Volunteering Project sought to create an index and summary of all known online mentoring programs, to research existing programs’ effective practices and program results, to research how effective practices for traditional, face-to-face mentoring could be applied to online programs, and to share these practices and other information relating to online mentoring via the Project's Web site. This article summarizes the findings and provides a listing and description of all known online mentoring programs.


The School Success Profile Online by Gary L. Bowen, Jack M. Richman, Natasha K. Bowen, & Andrew Broughton


KEY WORDS: Internet technology, school social work, online surveys, school success, human services


ABSTRACT:  This article provides an overview of the purposes, development, and implementation of the School Success Profile Online (SSP)--a computerized, self-report survey for middle and high school students.  The SSP takes advantage of World-Wide-Web technology and the increasing access of public schools to computers and the Internet to assess students’ perceptions of their neighborhoods, schools, peers, and families, as well as their own psychological and physical health and school performance.  The individual and group profiles generated by the SSP can help school social workers identify areas of concern, plan their interventions with students, and evaluate the impact of their efforts at the end of interventions.


Technology & School Social Work Services: Introducing Technology in an Alternative School by Bhavana A. Pahwa;


KEYWORDS: Technology, school social work, program evaluation, computer programs, qualitative and quantitative analysis


ABSTRACT:  The public school system, one of the largest human service institutions in our nation, is continuously engaged in a struggle to balance the needs of a growing and diverse population with continuing threats of budget cuts.  Under these conditions, it becomes even more critical that school social workers understand and appreciate the role of technology in delivering and evaluating services.  To assess the effectiveness of school social work services, evaluation will have to be planned for, and systems of data collection and processing will have to be conducted on an ongoing basis.

 This paper outlines the process whereby school social workers in a local school district proceeded to introduce technology into their service delivery regimen. Secondly, the paper shows how such technology was, and may be, used to evaluate the services provided by school social workers in an alternative school. 


School Social Work Information Systems (SSWIS): A Relational Database for School Social Workers by Mark E. Redmond


KEYWORDS:  online database, school social work, technology assisted intake, technology in schools, database development


ABSTRACT:  After a review of their information management system, the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Social Work Office began a process to improve data collection and information management. The result was the creation of the School Social Work Information System, a relational database designed and developed by the school social workers themselves. This article reviews the process of evaluating existing systems, developing and implementing the new system, evaluation and continued development of the new system, and implications for further social work practice. This article is intended to provide the school social worker with the necessary information to develop similar systems.