Because social workers provide more mental health treatment than any other profession, it is important to know the degree to which these providers' professional practice might be impaired by their own alcohol and other drug (AOD) use and mental health problems. Other disciplines, prompted by concern for their colleagues and protection of their clients, have conducted research on professional impairment, while social work has not. It is the goal of this project to collect information about the extent of AOD use, depression, anxiety and burnout among social workers, to determine demographic and other correlates (e.g. family history of alcoholism), and explore the degree to which AOD use, depression, anxiety and burnout affect professional practice (i.e. impairment). This fellowship training will support the preparation and implementation of an anonymous survey to collect these data from members of the North Carolina Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). A questionnaire will be developed and mailed to respondents with as many as six contacts to ensure a response rate of 70 percent or greater. The survey will be designed to protect anonymity and encourage truthful response. The NASW will provide the sampling frame, and statistical analyses of response bias will be conducted. Mean comparisons, correlations, analysis of variance, and regression techniques will be used to analyze the data. Rates of AOD use, depression, anxiety and burnout will be compared with rates for other caregiving disciplines and the general population. Relationships among variables will be explored, with special emphasis on the influence of the helper role identity and variables typically related to alcohol abuse. The findings will be used to inform individual interventions, program-level interventions such as Colleague Assistance Programs, workplace policy, and curricula in schools of Social Work. The data collected will be used as the foundation for a future NIH proposal for a national survey of impairment in social workers.
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