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Monthly Archives: June 2009

Dr. Keith Warren of the OSU College of Social Work and co-investigator Dr. Ciriyam Jayaprakash of the OSU Department of Physics were awarded a prestigious research grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse, a member of the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Keith Warren conducts critically needed research on therapeutic communities (TC) with the goal of helping TC clinicians improve client outcomes. However, research on TC treatment is a daunting task. TCs rely on the interactions between residents as the primary method of treatment. The fundamental TC process questions’how do residents maintain cooperation with each other, how do interactions give rise to a helping community, and how do interactions predict outcomes’cannot be answered through analysis of individual traits. Analysis must extend to thousands of interactions between residents. 

Dr. Warren’s study is based on a partnership between Ohio State University researchers and five Ohio corrections-based TCs. In an attempt to assure accountability and fidelity to standards of TC treatment (De Leon, 2000), the five Ohio TCs have recorded several hundred thousand incidents of helping behavior in agency databases. These records include givers and recipients of helping behavior as well as dates. They can therefore be analyzed as a social network. The analysis of the network aims to understand the way in which residents maintain cooperation within the TCs, the relationship between network characteristics and outcomes, and the overall community structure that arises through resident interactions.

An appealing aspect of studying the cooperative behavior of TC residents is that such behavior is amenable to clinical intervention. It is therefore expected that this study will result in concrete suggestions for the improvement of TC clinical outcomes.

Dr. Warren extends thanks to the following Ohio institutions with which he is partnering to conduct this important study: West Central Col Community Correctional Facility, River City Correctional Center, MonDay  Community Correctional Institution, STAR Community Justice Center, NorthWest Community Corrections Center, and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Students sitting at a circle of desks in a classroom

Social Work Professor, Dr. Dawn Anderson-Butcher, and her research team of Dr. Hal A. Lawson, Professor of Social Work and Education at the University of New York Albany, and Becky Wade-Mdivanian, Director of Youth Development in the College of Social Work at OSU, completed a case study of Akron’s pioneering school-community initiatives.  The team was recognized at a press conference in May with the Mayor of Akron, Ohio and the Superintendent of Akron Public Schools.  To read more about the case study, see the Executive Summary: Extending, Accelerating & Connecting Learning.

Photo of a pregnant womanDr. Marilyn Lewis and her team, who have been awarded a one-year pilot grant from the Pilot and Collaborative Translational and Clinical Science Program, have proposed a clinical research project to focus on maternal-fetal bonding among substance abusing women.

Awarded by the Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS), the grant provides one year of funding for a behavioral science approach using positive reinforcement. This will determine the level of bonding among substance-abusing women during their pregnancies.

“This [collaboration] builds on my previous experiences,” said Lewis, “and I’m excited about [the project.]“

Lewis, an Assistant Professor in the College of Social Work, says poor results are seen in reduction of drug use among pregnant women with negative reinforcement, or punishment. She and her colleagues will apply a creative method of Nancy Petry’s contingency-management prize reinforcement therapy in order to reinforce abstinence and increase maternal-fetal bonding.

This method of contingency management reinforcement works much like a lottery. Pregnant women will be randomized to two groups where one of the groups will receive reinforcement of abstinence and pregnancy related activities, while the other group will receive reinforcement of abstinence and other non-drug-related activities.

The system is like a lottery where women can earn positive reinforcement as incentives. At each visit, a participant who is abstinent and can document completion of activities will earn the opportunity to draw a token from a prize bowl that can be exchanged for prize. The value of tokens varies, can accumulate over time, and can be exchanged for prizes such as jewelry, gas cards, and baby items.

“Research shows that reinforcement every time reduces its effect,” said Lewis, “whereas intermittent reinforcement remains effective longer.”

Lewis is working in collaboration with: Dr. Mona R. Prasad, Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Director of the Substance Treatment Education Prevention in Pregnancy (STEPP); Dr. Edward G. Shepherd is the Associate Medical Director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the Ohio State University; and Dr. Jay D. Iams is Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

By Amy Hoover, Wednesday, May 22, 2009

Hope Statue by Holocaust Survivor Alfred Tibor

Dr. Keith Anderson of the OSU College of Social Work has been awarded a research grant by the John A. Hartford Foundation, a national foundation dedicated to improving health care for older Americans.  With the Hartford funds, Dr. Anderson will examine the experiences of family members who care for older adults who are Holocaust survivors.  Because the Holocaust was a time of extreme trauma, Dr. Anderson’s study, in addition to gathering information about how best to care for the unique population of Holocaust survivors, will also contribute knowledge about how best to care for the understudied and underserved group of older adults who have experienced trauma.

To carry out his research, Dr. Anderson is partnering with Jewish Family Service organizations from the Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus, Ohio metropolitan areas.  Through these organizations, Dr. Anderson will connect with Holocaust caregivers he plans to interview and survey about their experiences as trauma caregivers.

The findings from this study should have a number of important implications for gerontologists and geriatric social workers.  First, the findings will allow researchers and practitioners to understand and meet the specific challenges faced by family caregivers of Holocaust survivors.  Second, the study will provide insight into the challenges faced by family caregivers of older adults who experienced other types of trauma such as abuse, war (veterans and refugees), extreme poverty, and incarceration.  Finally, the results of this study will allow for the testing of theoretical models of trauma caregiving and, most importantly, for the development of evidence-based social work interventions to effectively serve this underserved and vulnerable group of family caregivers.