First Advisor

Eileen Brennen

Term of Graduation

Fall 2006

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Social Work and Social Research


Social Work and Social Research




Evidence-based social work, Interpersonal conflict, School violence



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, xi, 189 pages)


Researchers have argued that there is a research-practice gap in the delivery of prevention and mental health services in the school setting. An extension of the work of Astor and his colleagues (Astor et al., 1997, 1998, 2000), this study addresses that gap by examining the extent to which evidence-supported school violence intervention programs (ESP) are known and used by school social workers, and the barriers that are related to the use of ESPs.

A cross-sectional, web-based survey was completed by 250 members of the School Social Work Association of America, the majority having an MSW as their highest degree. Participants worked in a variety of geographical regions and diverse communities.

Using blocks of variables, two hypotheses were tested through multiple regression analysis: (1) reported level of violence and practitioner capabilities will predict practitioner awareness of ESPs; and (2) reported level of violence, practitioner capabilities, and awareness of evidence-supported programs will predict the use of ESPs. As expected, the greater the practitioner's time addressing violence, years of experience, confidence about successfully implementing violence intervention programs, and familiarity with the term "evidence-supported program" the greater the awareness of ESPs the social worker reported. Additionally, the higher the practitioner's level of preparedness to effectively respond to school violence and the more awareness of ESPs, the greater the reported use of ESPs.

Despite 98.8% of the respondents being aware of at least one ESP, only 72.4% of participants reported using an ESP during the last three years. In addition, more than 90% of the school social workers reported implementing numerous interventions that were not evidence-supported. Practitioners had difficulty acquiring ESPs due to unknown effectiveness of programs, programs being cost prohibitive, and not knowing where to locate ESPs. Barriers social workers identified were a nearly exclusive focus on academic subject areas and lack of time to implement interventions.

The findings have implications for university and school district training programs, can inform national and state policy regarding the dissemination and use of evidence-supported programs, and be used by organizations of school social workers to address the implementation of evidence-supported programs to prevent student-perpetrated school violence.


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