Social Work Research: Asking Relevant Questions and Answering Them Well

Article excerpt

I am delighted to assume, from my able predecessor Anne Fortune, the baton of editor-in-chief of Social Work Research. I look forward to working with you--the readers, contributors, Editorial Board members, and consulting editors--to ensure this journal's niche as "one of the chief outlets" for research for "advancing the development of knowledge and informing social work practice" (See the manuscript and copyright information on the inside back cover of this journal.). We will strive to deliver practice-relevant, important, timely, solidly executed, and readable articles.

This issue's lead article addresses one of the nation's most pressing public health concerns--depression--and another article tackles one of the most timely issues in public policy debate--social security. Both articles demonstrate the "value added" perspective deriving from social work research on nationally significant and relevant topics. Social work leadership itself is the focus of a third article, and a fourth contributes to our understanding of lesbians' family relationships. This issue's methodology notes section provides a clear and useful article for guiding appropriate statistical analyses on many questions relevant to social work practice.

Depression is recognized as one of the highest public health priorities, because of its high prevalence, morbidity, societal cost, and high demands for service. Aranda, Castenada, Lee, and Sobel address depression among U.S. Latinos, who are estimated to become the largest racial-ethnic minority group in the United States in the next 10 years. Although no gender differences in depressive symptomatology were found, depression was found to be associated with gender-specific sources of stress and support. Findings suggest that practitioners addressing depression should assess both work- and family-related stress and that researchers should explore further both gender-related understandings and treatment of depression.

Ozawa and Kim make two key contributions to our understanding of social security, a public policy program the reform of which is currently and hotly debated. First, relying on lifetime rather than monthly contributions and benefits, they take a "money's worth" perspective to analyzing equity in the distribution of social security benefits. Second, they demonstrate that black workers receive lower lifetime benefits than white workers. Recent reports, such as those by the Surgeon General on mental and dental health, have called attention to racial disparities in health. Ozawa and Kim show that even progressive social policies perpetuate disadvantages rooted in racial disparities in health and life expectancy. They argue that reducing health disparities is necessary to achieve racial equity in "money's worth" in social security benefits. …


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