Working with Alcohol and Drug Use: Exploring the Knowledge and Attitudes of Social Work Students Galvani, S. & Hughes, N. (2008). Working with alcohol and drug use: Exploring the
knowledge and attitudes of social work students. British journal of social work,
40, 946-962. doi: 1010093/bjsw/ben137. Study Discussion
The target population of this study was social work students. The study population initially consisted of one hundred and fifty-six, and finally one hundred and twenty-one, Birmingham University students participating in BA and MA social works programs as well as in two post-qualifying social work cohorts. The unit of analysis was a self-completion questionnaire which consisted of four sections as well as an additional two questions inquiring about training relevance and self-identified training needs. The study was pre-experimental and designed as a one shot case study.
A non-random, convenience sampling was used. The self-completion questionnaire was distributed one time to the initial one hundred and fifty-six participants. This was the only critical measure used in this study. Study Critique
Target Population, Study Population, Measurement & Unit of Analysis
Target Population and Study Population.
This study made no hypotheses but instead aimed to assess the knowledge and attitudes of social work students towards working with clients who are substance problems. Their study population was an appropriate sized and not too limited sample consisting of a final one hundred and twenty-one students from Birmingham University’s BA and MA social work programs as well as from two post-qualifying programs specializing in social work with Children and Families. There was about an equal amount of students from the BA, MA and PQ programs (43, 41 and 36 respectively; Galvani & Hughes, 2008) which increased the likelihood of having variability in knowledge and attitudes among the students in the sample that is representative of the larger population and did not limit the results to just one group of social work students.
Measurement and Unit of Analysis.
The researchers created a self-completion questionnaire which was distributed one time to the original one hundred and fifty-six participants, used Likert scales and categorical responses and consisted of four sub sections and an additional two questions. The first part of the questionnaire dealt with demographics and the second was the alcohol, drugs and alcohol/drug users’ problems perceptions questionnaire (ADPPQ). The third part focused on perceived training needs and the fourth section inquired about personal use and experience with substances and substance users. The two additional questions were related to the participants’ perceived relevance of alcohol and drug training to social work practice and allowed for them to identify their specific training needs. There is a risk with a self-report measurement such as this one as participants may wish to be more socially desirable and may report knowing more and feeling more confident than they actually do. Still, the questionnaire and it’s sections did include important factors which may influence the student’s attitudes and knowledge towards substance use with the integration of the successful ADPPQ and personal experience. However, as Galvani & Hughes (2008) state themselves, it would perhaps have been beneficial to have included questions related the ethnic and religious beliefs of their participants as culture is a crucial variable to be considered in all contexts and often times causes significant differences between individuals on many concepts.
The researchers performed an explanatory factor analysis, a multivariate statistical technique, which identified the statements on the ADPPQ that were measuring the same concept and allowed for these variables to then be combined into three stronger, explanatory factors: knowledge, support from colleagues and legimaticy of role. This statistical technique...
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