Social Work - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 118
Suicidality and suicide prevention in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities: A systematic review
(ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2019-11-25)
Australia has one of the largest multicultural populations in the world, with cultural and linguistic diversity (CALD) a defining feature. CALD populations have unique identities and experiences of mental health and suicide, with multicultural differences, trauma and experiences of discrimination and stigma pertinent to effective suicide prevention approaches. Very little is known however about suicide and suicidality among this population in Australia. This systematic review explored literature on suicidality and suicide prevention in CALD communities as a means of informing suicide prevention research, policy and practice in the Australian context. Five electronic databases (Medline, PsycINFO, Embase, Emcare, and CINAHL) were searched. Studies were included if they examined factors associated with suicidality or described suicide prevention initiatives in CALD populations, and were conducted in OECD countries. Study quality was assessed using the CASP qualitative checklist for qualitative studies and the Quality Assessment Tool for quantitative studies. Thematic analysis was used to identify key themes in the included studies. Eighteen studies met the criteria for inclusion, including ten qualitative and eight quantitative studies. No Australian studies were identified. Key themes included acculturation difficulties, stigma, the influence of social networks and family, heterogeneity of CALD populations, and suggested prevention strategies. The review found no Australian studies looking at suicidality or suicide prevention in CALD communities. It highlights the need for a greater focus across policy, research and evaluation on suicide prevention in Australian CALD communities.
An evaluation of the effect of an educational intervention for Australian social workers on competence in delivering brief cognitive behavioural strategies: A randomised controlled trial
(BIOMED CENTRAL LTD, 2010-11-05)
BACKGROUND: Broad community access to high quality evidence-based primary mental health care is an ongoing challenge around the world. In Australia one approach has been to broaden access to care by funding psychologists and other allied health care professionals to deliver brief psychological treatments to general practitioners' patients. To date, there has been a scarcity of studies assessing the efficacy of social worker delivered psychological strategies. This study aims to build the evidence base by evaluating the impact of a brief educational intervention on social workers' competence in delivering cognitive behavioural strategies (strategies derived from cognitive behavioural therapy). METHODS: A randomised controlled trial design was undertaken with baseline and one-week follow-up measurement of both objective and self-perceived competence. Simulated consultations with standardised depressed patients were recorded on videotape and objective competence was assessed by blinded reviewers using the Cognitive Therapy Scale. Questionnaires completed by participants were used to measure self-perceived competence. The training intervention was a 15 hour face-to-face course involving presentations, video example consultations, written materials and rehearsal of skills in pairs. RESULTS: 40 Melbourne-based (Australia) social workers enrolled and were randomised and 9 of these withdrew from the study before the pre training simulated consultation. 30 of the remaining 31 social workers (97%) completed all phases of the intervention and evaluation protocol (16 from intervention and 14 from control group). The intervention group showed significantly greater improvements than the control group in objective competence (mean improvement of 14.2 (7.38-21.02) on the 66 point Cognitive Therapy Scale) and in subjective confidence (mean improvement of 1.28 (0.84-1.72) on a 5 point Likert scale). On average, the intervention group improved from below to above the base competency threshold on the Cognitive Therapy Scale whilst the control group remained below. CONCLUSIONS: Social workers can attain significant improvements in competency in delivering cognitive behavioural strategies from undertaking brief face to face training. This is relevant in the context of health reforms that involve social worker delivery of evidence based psychological care. Further research is required to assess how these improvements in competence translate into performance in practice and clinical outcomes for patients.
Being adopted and being a mother
(Sage Publications, 2020)
Twenty-one women adopted as infants within the Australian state of Victoria discussed their lived experience as mothers and the impacts of their adoption at this life stage. Sixteen participants took part in semi-structured interviews and the emerging categories were evaluated by a focus group of five additional adopted women. While each of their accounts is unique, reflecting their own individual life histories, partnerships and social networks, shared threads of meaning run through the combined narratives. The women’s descriptions of the values and models of care they bring to motherhood, their view of their children and the hopes they have for their family of procreation are each discussed in the light of their adoption status and experiences. Particular emphasis is given to issues of their adjustments to identity and extended family relationships and experiences of loss. This breaks new ground for a population that remains largely hidden within Australian society and points a way to future research endeavours in this area.
Interpersonal violence and mental health outcomes following disaster
(CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS, 2020-01-01)
BACKGROUND: Disasters pose a documented risk to mental health, with a range of peri- and post-disaster factors (both pre-existing and disaster-precipitated) linked to adverse outcomes. Among these, increasing empirical attention is being paid to the relation between disasters and violence. AIMS: This study examined self-reported experiences of assault or violence victimisation among communities affected by high, medium, and low disaster severity following the 2009 bushfires in Victoria, Australia. The association between violence, mental health outcomes and alcohol misuse was also investigated. METHOD: Participants were 1016 adults from high-, medium- and low-affected communities, 3-4 years after an Australian bushfire disaster. Rates of reported violence were compared by areas of bushfire-affectedness. Logistic regression models were applied separately to men and women to assess the experience of violence in predicting general and fire-related post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and alcohol misuse. RESULTS: Reports of experiencing violence were significantly higher among high bushfire-affected compared with low bushfire-affected regions. Analyses indicated the significant relationship between disaster-affectedness and violence was observed for women only, with rates of 1.0, 0 and 7.4% in low, medium and high bushfire-affected areas, respectively. Among women living in high bushfire-affected areas, negative change to income was associated with an increased likelihood of experiencing violence (odds ratio, 4.68). For women, post-disaster violence was associated with more severe post-traumatic stress disorder and depression symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: Women residing within high bushfire-affected communities experienced the highest levels of violence. These post-disaster experiences of violence are associated with post-disaster changes to income and with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression symptoms among women. These findings have critical implications for the assessment of, and interventions for, women experiencing or at risk of violence post-disaster.
Who Makes Decisions for Vulnerable Young People? Shifting Sands and Murky Waters
(ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2018-01-01)
This paper discusses the existing guidance in Australian legislative and regulatory frameworks to inform the process of young people moving through varying stages of maturity towards independent decision-making. In the context of exploratory research to develop a stable online repository of personal documents for young people in out-of-home care, the researchers envisioned in-built, age-appropriate levels of decision-making authority, associated with what was stored, who had access, and who owned these records. They sought guidance to protect young people themselves and to support workers and other mentors. Little unqualified guidance emerged from the documentary search. Supporting any young people in the journey towards independent decision-making relies on individual judgements about the type of decision and risks involved, and the age, maturity, and experience of the young person. Above all, a supportive trusting relationship with an adult allows young people to learn through their own mistakes. IMPLICATIONS Young people's competence in decision-making depends on a range of individual, familial, and social factors, and individualised guidance is necessary to support their participation. A supportive, trusting relationship with an adult provides the best environment for balancing vulnerable young peoples’ participation rights with their continuing needs for protection. The policy and practice challenge is to harness digital technologies without being distracted from the importance of relationship-based work.
Working with women who use force: a feasibility study protocol of the Positive (+) SHIFT group work programme in Australia
(BMJ PUBLISHING GROUP, 2019-05-01)
INTRODUCTION: This study assesses the feasibility of the Positive Shift (+SHIFT) programme in the context of legal responses and social welfare provision in the state of Victoria, Australia.The +SHIFT programme, adapted from the Vista curriculum, is a group work and case management programme for women who use force. Building on traditional survivor support group strengths, the programme facilitates participants' engagement with viable alternatives to force while promoting healing. The study also aims to increase understanding about the characteristics and needs of women who use force in Australia. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: This feasibility study will assess the +SHIFT programme's appropriateness in addressing women's use of force in the Victorian context. Process evaluation will be undertaken to identify recruitment, retention, women's participation, barriers to implementation, the appropriateness of proposed outcome measures and other issues. The feasibility of an outcome evaluation which would employ a longitudinal mixed methods design with measures administered at preprogramme, programme completion and 3 months postprogramme time points, along with semistructured interviews with participants, programme staff and referring professionals, will also be assessed. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Research ethics approval was obtained from the University of Melbourne Human Research Ethics Committee. Results of the study will be communicated to the programme providers as part of the action research process evaluation methodology. On completion, final results will be reported to programme providers and funding bodies, and published in academic journals and presented at national and international conferences.
"It happens to clinicians too": an Australian prevalence study of intimate partner and family violence against health professionals
BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to measure the prevalence of intimate partner and family violence amongst a population of Australian female nurses, doctors and allied health professionals. METHODS: We conducted a descriptive, cross-sectional survey in a large Australian tertiary maternity hospital with 471 participating female health professionals (45.0% response rate). The primary outcome measures were 12 month and lifetime prevalence of intimate partner violence (Composite Abuse Scale) and family violence. RESULTS: In the last 12 months, one in ten (43, 11.5%) participants reported intimate partner violence: 4.2% (16) combined physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse; 6.7% (25) emotional abuse and/or harassment; 5.1% (22) were afraid of their partner; and 1.7% (7) had been raped by their partner. Since the age of sixteen, one third (125, 29.7%) of participants reported intimate partner violence: 18.3% (77) had experienced combined physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse; 8.1% (34) emotional abuse and/or harassment; 25.6% (111) had been afraid of their partner; and 12.1% (51) had been raped by their partner. Overall, 45.2% (212) of participants reported violence by a partner and/or family member during their lifetime, with 12.8% (60) reporting both. CONCLUSION: Intimate partner and family violence may be common traumas in the lives of female health professionals, and this should be considered in health workplace policies and protocols, as health professionals are increasingly urged to work with patients who have experienced intimate partner and family violence. Implications include the need for workplace manager training, special leave provision, counselling services and other resources for staff.
Ethical Use and Impact of Participatory Approaches to Research in Post-Disaster Environments: An Australian Bushfire Case Study
(HINDAWI LTD, 2018-01-01)
This paper presents a case study of Beyond Bushfires, a large, multisite, mixed method study of the psychosocial impacts of major bushfires in Victoria, Australia. A participatory approach was employed throughout the study which was led by a team of academic investigators in partnership with service providers and government representatives and used on-site visits and multiple methods of communication with communities across the state to inform decision-making throughout the study. The ethics and impacts of conducting and adapting the approach within a post-disaster context will be discussed in reference to theories and models of participatory health research. The challenges of balancing local interests with state-wide implications will also be explored in the description of the methods of engagement and the study processes and outcomes. Beyond Bushfires demonstrates the feasibility of incorporating participatory methods in large, post-disaster research studies and achieving rigorous findings and multilevel impacts, while recognising the potential for some of the empowering aspects of the participatory experience to be reduced by the scaled-up approach.
Exploring learning goals and assessment approaches for Indigenous health education: a qualitative study in Australia and New Zealand
In higher education, assessment is key to student learning. Assessments which promote critical thinking necessary for sustained learning beyond university are highly valued. However, the design of assessment tasks to achieve these types of thinking skills and dispositions to act in professional practice has received little attention. This research examines how academics design assessment to achieve these learning goals in Indigenous health education. Indigenous health education is an important area of learning for health practitioners to help address worldwide patterns of health inequities that exist for Indigenous people. We used a constructivist qualitative methodology to (i) explore learning goals and assessment strategies used in Indigenous health tertiary education and (ii) examine how they relate to higher education assessment ideals. Forty-one academics (from nine health disciplines) involved in teaching Indigenous health content participated in a semi-structured interview. Thematic analysis revealed learning goals to transform students’ perspectives and capacities to think critically and creatively about their role in Indigenous health. In contrast, assessment tasks encouraged more narrowly bounded thinking to analyse information about historical and socio-cultural factors contributing to Indigenous health. To transform students to be critical health practitioners capable of working and collaborating with Indigenous people to advance their health and well-being, the findings suggest that assessment may need to be nested across many aspects of the curriculum using a programmatic approach, and with a focus on learning to think and act for future practice. These findings accord with more recent calls for transformation of learning and assessment in health education.
A controlled trial of implementing a complex mental health intervention for carers of vulnerable young people living in out-of-home care: the ripple project
(BIOMED CENTRAL LTD, 2016-12-07)
BACKGROUND: Out-of-home care (OoHC) refers to young people removed from their families by the state because of abuse, neglect or other adversities. Many of the young people experience poor mental health and social function before, during and after leaving care. Rigorously evaluated interventions are urgently required. This publication describes the protocol for the Ripple project and notes early findings from a controlled trial demonstrating the feasibility of the work. The Ripple project is implementing and evaluating a complex mental health intervention that aims to strengthen the therapeutic capacities of carers and case managers of young people (12-17 years) in OoHC. METHODS: The study is conducted in partnership with mental health, substance abuse and social services in Melbourne, with young people as participants. It has three parts: 1. Needs assessment and implementation of a complex mental health intervention; 2. A 3-year controlled trial of the mental health, social and economic outcomes; and 3. Nested process evaluation of the intervention. RESULTS: Early findings characterising the young people, their carers and case managers and implementing the intervention are available. The trial Wave 1 includes interviews with 176 young people, 52% of those eligible in the study population, 104 carers and 79 case managers. CONCLUSIONS: Implementing and researching an affordable service system intervention appears feasible and likely to be applicable in other places and countries. Success of the intervention will potentially contribute to reducing mental ill-health among these young people, including suicide attempts, self-harm and substance abuse, as well as reducing homelessness, social isolation and contact with the criminal justice system. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12615000501549 . Retrospectively registered 19 May 2015.
Placement Instability Among Young People Removed from Their Original Family and the Likely Mental Health Implications.
BACKGROUND: Young people in out-of-home care are more likely to experience poorer mental and physical health outcomes related to their peers. Stable care environments are essential for ameliorating impacts of disruptive early childhood experiences, including exposure to psychological trauma, abuse and neglect. At present there are very few high quality data regarding the placement stability history of young people in out-of-home care in Australia or other countries. OBJECTIVES: To undertake the first systematic census of background, care type and placement stability characteristics of young people living in the out-of-home care sector in Australia. METHODS: Data was collected from four non-government child and adolescent community service organisations located across metropolitan Melbourne in 2014. The sample comprised 322 young people (females 52.8%), aged between 12 - 17 years (mean age=14.86 [SD=1.63] years). RESULTS: Most young people (64.3%) were in home-based care settings (i.e., foster care, therapeutic foster care, adolescent care program, kinship care, and lead tenant care), relative to residential care (35.7%). However, the proportion in residential care is very high in this age group when compared with all children in out-of-home care (5%). Mean age of first removal was 9 years (SD=4.54). No gender differences were observed for care type characteristics. Three quarters of the sample (76.9%) had a lifetime history of more than one placement in the out-of-home care system, with more than a third (36.5%) having experienced ≥5 lifetime placements. Relative to home-based care, young people in residential care experienced significantly greater placement instability (χ2=63.018, p<0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Placement instability is common in the out-of-home care sector. Given stable care environments are required to ameliorate psychological trauma and health impacts associated with childhood maltreatment, well-designed intervention-based research is required to enable greater placement stability, including strengthening the therapeutic capacities of out-of-home carers of young people.