Health and Mental Health Social Workers Need Information Literacy Skills

By Wheeler, Darrell P.; Goodman, Harriet | Health and Social Work, August 2007 | Go to article overview

Health and Mental Health Social Workers Need Information Literacy Skills


Wheeler, Darrell P., Goodman, Harriet, Health and Social Work


In recent years, social work has moved in parallel with medicine and the health sciences to use evidence-based criteria to determine the actions of practitioners (Institute of Medicine, 2001; Parker-Oliver & Demiris, 2006). Consequently, social workers employed in health and mental health settings are compelled to use evidence-based practices in their work. For many practitioners, evidence-based practice means the application of empirically based service models and a trend toward interventions demonstrated to be effective in changing behavior and ameliorating clients' problems. However, social workers, including those in medical and mental health services, are often not involved in the research that informs these practices, and their ability to shape promoted practices is virtually nonexistent.

Health and mental health social workers increasingly view evidence-based practice as prescriptive, with researchers in centers of scholarship developing research for practitioners. This situation has exacerbated the rift between researchers and social workers who are expected to carry out empirically supported practices, although they are not involved in the production of research or even in the synthesis of evidence that supports particular practices and rejects others. People with research expertise and the resources to conduct empirical inquiry are generally located in academic institutions and do not necessarily call on practitioners themselves to critically examine evidence-based practice models. When these prescribed practices move from the rarified conditions under which randomized controlled trials are conducted into agency settings, they confront real-world organizational realities, Real-world "intrusions" may limit fidelity to the model produced by this "gold standard" of research. As a result, technology transfer, or reliability for replication of evidence-based practices, may be compromised. Perhaps most disheartening is how this situation encourages passivity among people in the field to engage in research or remain fluent with current research. Continuing knowledge development is a shared responsibility at all levels of the social work profession (Lewis, 2003), and current education and practice structures are not encouraging practitioners to be partners in this process. We assert that people closest to direct services are best positioned to point out practice realities that distort programs. Although practices may be supported by high-level empirical evidence, they may not prove effective or even feasible under real-world conditions.

Originally, evidence-based practice was proposed for physicians to make use of the convergence of an explosion of information and technology, so that clinicians could use the growing body of research available through online databases. Ultimately, other health professionals were supposed to formulate clinical questions, critically assess empirical studies, and decide on the best approaches to bring to a dialogue with clients. The clients were meant to be active partners in decision making about their own care.

The institution of the Cochrane Collaboration (http://www:cochrane.org./index.htm) and the Campbell Collaboration (http://www. campbellcollaboration.org/) formalized this process, and both apply rigorous, transparent standards to their reviews of research studies. Although they are meant to serve policymakers, health workers, and people who use services, the extent to which medical social workers consult their readily available Web sites is unclear. Unlike nursing, speech therapy or rehabilitation therapy, or other health professions that have produced a burgeoning literature on information literacy skills as a central concern for educators (Jacobs, Rosenfeld, & Haber, 2003; Nail-Chiwetalu & Bernstein Ratner, 2007), the social work literature is for the most part silent in this area. With the exception of two recent texts that promote a bottom-up approach to evidence-based practice (Courneyer, 2004; Gibbs, 2003) and Gary Holden's remarkable informatics Web site for social workers (http://www:nyu.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Health and Mental Health Social Workers Need Information Literacy Skills
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.