SSWR PhD Student Traineeship in Research Communication Program

Policy Briefs
August 7, 2020
Prepared by members of the first cohort of the SSWR PhD Student Traineeship in Research Communication Program.

These eight policy briefs were prepared by members of the first cohort of the SSWR PhD Student Traineeship in Research Communication Program. The members of the first cohort were selected through a competitive application process. The purpose of the PhD Student Traineeship in Research Communication Program is twofold. First, to generate a set of knowledge translation products, which take research findings generated by SSWR members, and then translate them into policy briefs suitable for perusal by persons outside the academy. Second, to train PhD students in research communications. These policy briefs are disseminated through the SSWR website, and their presence communicated via social media. We encourage all readers to share with your colleagues.


Measuring Material Hardship is Critical for Capturing Economic Need in US Census Bureau Data
       Margaret M. C. Thomas, MSW, PhD Candidate, Boston University School of Social Work

The Census Bureau sets the bar for measuring economic need
The Census Bureau defines measures of poverty or economic need that are accepted in most policymaking, program design and implementation, and research. Most notably, the Census Bureau produces the annual measure of income poverty in the US, based on data 
from the Current Population Survey (CPS). Because there are a number of well-established limitations to measures of poverty based on income, the Census Bureau also calculates the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), addressing some of these concerns. However, SPM is still an income-based measure and therefore has limitations as a measure of poverty. Direct measures of need such as material hardship offer essential and notably different information about deprivation.

To learn more, view the full text here.

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To Protect Students, Campuses Must Reduce Rates of Dating Violence
        Julia O’Connor

In order to protect students on campuses nationwide, institutions must focus on dating violence
Summary: The prevalence of dating violence among college students is high: one in three college students experience dating violence committed by a current or former partner. The harmful effects of dating violence, which includes a range of abuses, warrant urgent action by institutions of higher education including using evidence-informed programming, tailor­ ing programming to campus culture, and addressing risk and protective factors, in order to truly reduce rates of campus interpersonal violence, as mandated under federal law.

To learn more, view the full text here.

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Reduce Rural Opioid Addiction: Telemedicine Parity is Needed in Pennsylvania
       LauraEllen Ashcraft, MSW

Opioid Abuse Kills Thousands in Rural Communities
Opioid abuse kills tens of thousands of Americans every year. Over 72,000 people died of opioid-related drug overdoses in the United States in 2017 (1). Opioid-related deaths in the US occur for many reasons and 40% involve prescription drugs (2). While rates of opioid addiction are higher in urban communities, rural communities experience higher rates of death due to opioid usage (3). Rural communities often do not have access to the most effective treatment (4).

To learn more, view the full text here

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Treating Opioid Addiction: Improving Patient Health Outcomes with Medication-Assisted Treatment
       Joseph Bartholomew, MSW, LCSW, LCAC; Indiana University School of Social Work

The United States is enduring a surge of opioid addiction and opioid overdoses
In the United States, rates of opioid use disorders (OUDs) and opioid-related overdose deaths continue to climb at alarming rates. This crisis has advanced to a public health emergency bringing with it a heightened level of urgency to address the situation.

To learn more, view the full text here. 

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Ending cash bail: How to save money while mitigating socioeconomic& racial disparities
       Brandy F. Henry, PhD, LICSW, Brandeis University Heller School for Social Policy & Management Columbia University School of Social Work

Summary
Cash bail policies should be eliminated to end the incarceration of people presumed innocent. Ending these policies will also save money and mitigate socioeconomic and racial disparities. Instead of replacing cash bail with risk assessment tools and preventive detention, personal recognizance should be the preferred solution. Savings from decreased incarceration should then be reinvested in communities to address the root causes of incarceration.

To learn more, view the full text here. 

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Re-Envisioning the Early Childhood Mental Health System: Adopting a “Two-Generation” Approach to Strengthen Family Well-Being
      Abigail Palmer Molina, MA, LCSW, IFECMHS, University of Southern California Suzanne-Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Summary
State-funded early childhood mental health programs do not fully address the needs of low-income families, reducing their potential to improve child health and well-being. Unaddressed mental health needs, unemployment, housing instability, exposure to trauma, and immigration-related stressors often overwhelm low-income parents’ abilities to invest time and attention in their young children, which can lead to ineffective parenting and poor child outcomes. Yet the need for sensitive caregiving is most critical during these first five years of life when the architecture of the brain is developing, and children are forming key attachment relationships.

Re-envisioning the child mental health system as a provider of family-centered care that serves the needs of both children and parents would help ensure children’s healthy development. Two-generation or whole-family approaches are unique in that they provide integrated, high-quality services for both children and caregivers in the same setting or program.

To learn more, view the full text here.

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Building School-Community Partnerships to Improve Student Mental Health in Rural Communities
       Catherine Kramer

Noah is a thirteen-year-old living in rural upstate New York. He lives with two siblings and his mother, who works part-time at three jobs including one that requires a 45-minute commute. Noah has been struggling with feelings of worthlessness, and it is getting harder for him to focus, even on favorite activities like playing soccer. Noah is not sure when this set of feelings started, but it all became worse after losing his grandfather. The school social worker has met Noah and suspects depression. Unfortunately, this is the only social worker in both the middle and high school in this community, and he is unable to provide Noah with the services he needs. This professional also believes Noah should be assessed for medication treatment, but transporting Noah to the county mental health clinic, which is 50 miles away, presents another set of challenges.

To learn more, view the full text here.

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A Call for Professional Treatment Guidelines for Eating Disorders Among Boys and Men
       Kyle T. Ganson

Many medical providers lack knowledge on how to assess and treat patients with an eating disorder. This is particularly concerning for boys and men with eating disorders because they often are underdiagnosed and undertreated. Currently, there are no medical treatment guidelines for male patients with eating disordersdespite calls for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to identify education and training materials for health professionals on eating disordersThe Office of Health and Human Services and professional medical organizations need to provide guidance and information on how to assess and treat male eating disorder patients.

To learn more, view the full text here.

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