Skip to main content

Research Roundup: March 2024

It was a busy month for the School of Social Work team. The March roundup includes 14 publications.

Smith P. Theimann Jr. Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Professional Practice Kimberly Strom conducted multiple lectures in Slovenia.


Director, Jordan Institute for Families Sarah Verbiest and Dorothy Cilenti ’90 (MSW) were two of the co-editors for The Practical Playbook III: Working Together to Improve Maternal Health, a guide for “researchers, community activists, and advocates of maternal health offering practical tools and strategies to improve inequities in maternal health” that was released in February 2024. 

Smith P. Theimann Jr. Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Professional Practice Kimberly Strom, Sarah Banks (Durham University), Teresa Bertotti (University of Trento), Lynne Cairns (Durham University), Jane Shears (British Association of Social Workers), Michelle Shum (Hong Kong Baptist University), Ana M Sobočan (University of Ljubljana) and María Jesús Úriz (Public University of Navarre) co-authored “Social work beyond the pandemic: Exploring social work values for a new eco-social world” for International Social Work. The article “draws on a series of international research-focused webinars with social workers in 2022. They were designed to examine the rethinking of professional values during the pandemic in the context of other global crises, particularly the climate emergency. Participants readily shared ethical issues relating to self-care, digital working and reduced bureaucracy during the pandemic and implications for future practice. The need for holistic, community-based approaches integrating social, health and economic aspects of people’s lives arose, and the importance of seeing humans as part of the natural world (eco-social approaches). Awareness of newer post-anthropocentric and posthuman philosophies was less evident.”

Assistant Professor Orrin Ware, Matthew D. Novak (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) and Forrest Toegel (Northern Michigan University) co-authored “Frequent Use of Contingency Management and Opioid Treatment Programs that Provide Treatment for More than Only Opioid Use Disorder” for Journal of Drug Issues. The authors examined the commonness of frequent contingency management among 672 opioid treatment programs in the United States, and what factors were associated with providing the management, including “state-level fatal overdoses, number of pharmacotherapies, outpatient treatment, facility ownership, and residential treatment.” The authors found that 440 of the 672 facilities provided contingency management, and that “Facilities that prescribed more pharmacotherapies, were located in states with high drug overdose death rates, and for-profit (compared to nonprofit) providers were more likely to offer contingency management.” The authors concluded that contingency management should be provided more frequently for opioid treatment programs.

Professor Paul Lanier, Daniel Gibbs ’23 (Ph.D.), Claire McNellan ’24 (Ph.D.) and Katherine Bryant (UNC Collaborative for Maternal and Infant Health and Jordan Institute for Families) co-authored “Identifying children at risk for maltreatment fatalities: assessing the Current landscape of birth match policies in the United States” for Journal of Public Child Welfare. The authors examined the data-driven strategy of “Birth Match,” through its key features, research evidence and challenges. After interviewing informants in four states, they found the programs share features and goals, but have different responses and data integrity processes for cases. The authors concluded that “additional implementation and evaluation infrastructure to ensure transparency and effectiveness” is needed.

Research Associate Professor Tonya Van Deinse, Nicholas K. Powell (Georgia Southern University), Mari Roberts (The Council of State Governments) and Angela Gunter (The Council of State Governments) co-authored “Specialized Mental Health Supervision: Revocations and Risk Composition” for Criminal Justice and Behavior. The authors compared the rates of revocations and rearrests for individuals with and without mental illness and examined the successfulness of Specialized Mental Health Supervision in reducing the chances of revocation. The authors found that those with mental illness were more likely to have a revocation, and that Specialized Mental Health Supervision did not significantly lower revocations when factoring in other characteristics of caseloads.

Associate Professor Joy Noel Baumgartner was the senior author on the publication, “Social support and managing schizophrenia in Tanzania: Perspectives from treatment-engaged individuals and relative caregivers” for Social Science & Medicine—Mental Health. The co-authors included Praxeda Swai (Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences), Monica Desjardins (Duke University), Anna Minja (Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences), Jennifer Headley (Duke University), Paul Lawala (Mbeya Zonal Referral Hospital), Liness Ndelwa (Mbeya Zonal Referral Hospital), Carina Maboja (Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences), Joseph Temu (Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences), Ellen Lukens (Columbia University) and Sylvia Kaaya (Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences).

Doctoral student Spenser R. Radtke, Associate Professor Cynthia Fraga Rizo, L. Richardson Preyer Distinguished Chair for Strengthening Families Rebecca J. Macy, doctoral student Denise Yookong Williams, doctoral student Wan-Ting Chen, Christopher J. Wretman (University of Edinburgh) and Hannabeth Franchino-Olsen (Ohio State University) co-authored “A Systematic Review of Conceptualizations and Operationalizations of Youth Polyvictimization” for Trauma, Violence, & Abuse. The authors examined violence against youth by looking at the ways that polyvictimization (multiple forms of violence) was studied. The authors stated that evidence suggested that polyvictims were more likely to have worse mental and physical health outcomes compared to youth who experienced a single form of violence, and minoritized youth were more likely to experience polyvictimization. The authors’ findings indicated that while research on polyvictimization is growing around the world, it’s being conducted in different ways, making it more difficult to compare results and make advancements in the field of study.

Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Travis Albritton, Associate Professor David Ansong, Professor Paul Lanier, Associate Professor William Hall, Annie Francis ’11 (MSW), ’22 (Ph.D.), Research Assistant Jake Leite and Ashley McMillan (American Indian Heritage Center) co-authored “Examining Permanency-Related Outcomes for American Indian Children in the Foster Care System in the Context of the Indian Child Welfare Act” for the Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research. The authors examined the permanency-related outcomes, such as kinship care, care from a relative or parent or a parent’s rights being terminated, for American Indian and non-American Indian children from data collected by the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System from 2017-2019. The authors found that while American Indian children were slightly more likely to have a “case plan goal of reunification” or kinship care, they were less likely to be discharged to their relatives or parents. The authors concluded that their findings “should have implications for improving” services and the Indian Child Welfare Act.

John A. Tate Distinguished Professor for Children in Need Emily Putnam-Hornstein authored the opinion piece, “The ‘Neglect’ That Drives Children Into Foster Care” for the Wall Street Journal.

Digital Pedagogy Coach Stefanie Panke and Israt Jahan Oeeshi (Asian University for Women) co-authored “Educational Technology for Strong Schools: Using Open Pedagogy and Collaborative Writing to Create a Student-Authored Open Access Book” for International Journal for Educational Media and Technology. The authors explained “how to use open-access textbooks as collaborative writing projects, drawing from a case study with 22 students at the Asian University for Women. The authors provide an overview of the intersection of open-access textbooks and collaborative writing projects and describe the case study results.”

Digital Pedagogy Coach Stefanie Panke and Thilo Harth co-authored “Design Thinking, Making and Serious Play: Similarities, Differences, and Workshop Concepts” for International Journal for Educational Media and Technology. The authors examined “educational media pedagogies that are predominantly non-digital, but nonetheless timely and influential. Design Thinking, Making, and Serious Play are three distinct yet interrelated approaches to problem-solving, resilience and innovation that have gained increased traction in education over the past decade. We explore the similarities and differences between these playful, experiental pedagogies and provide an overview of how these approaches can be integrated effectively into education settings. Finally, we provide transferable examples, including evaluation results, from a weeklong workshop series at Muenster University of Applied Sciences conducted in Spring 2022.”

Associate Professor Rainier Masa, Kayla Pitchford (Old Dominion University), Sylvia Shangani (Boston University), Charlotte Dawson (Old Dominion University) and Kristin Heron (Old Dominion University) co-authored “Community Health Care Providers’ Perspectives on Human Immunodeficiency Virus Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Use Among Black Women in Eastern Virginia” for AIDS Patient Care and STDs. The authors conducted a study using the socioecological method to examine provider perspectives on the barriers and facilitators of pre-exposure prophylaxis, an HIV prevention method, for Black women in Eastern Virginia. The authors’ findings “highlight unique barriers to accessing and taking PrEP for Black women in the United States, and potential factors that could facilitate PrEP use. Both barriers and facilitators may be important targets for interventions to improve PrEP uptake. Future research focused on improving PrEP uptake among Black women in the United States should consider multi-level interventions that target barriers and facilitators to reduce rates of HIV infections.”

Assistant Professor Bridgette Thom, Jacob Stein (UNC School of Medicine), Dawn Ritzwoller (UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center), Alexis Wardell (Carolina Survey Research Laboratory), Emily R. Haines (Wake Forest University), Lauren Lux (UNC School of Medicine) and Andrew B. Smitherman (UNC School of Medicine) co-authored “Abstract 6377: UNC AYA Cancer Program: Reach and influence on cancer care delivery” for the American Association for Cancer Research. The authors conducted a “retrospective study” of the AYA (adolescent and young adults) Cancer Program at UNC since 2015 to “describe the AYA population and compare outcomes” between those that received adolescent and young adult-specific program support and those that did not.
“Our findings suggest AYAs contacted by our program represent a distinct population with higher clinical and social needs. Despite higher rates of acute care events and no-shows, they were more likely to receive guideline-recommended care – clinical trial enrollment, fertility counseling, and palliative care. Future analyses will compare outcomes using adjusted modeling, and track trends over time. Results will inform next steps for the UNC AYA Cancer Program and other centers aiming to improve care delivery for AYAs.”

Presentations & Trainings

Smith P. Theimann Jr. Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Professional Practice Kimberly Strom taught multiple classes at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia in March. The classes included “Ethics in Social Work” for BSW students and ERASMUS Program (international) students from 10 European countries, and “Ethical Dilemmas in an International Perspective” for MSW students.

John A. Tate Distinguished Professor for Children in Need Emily Putnam-Hornstein spoke at the annual “Champions 4 Children” conference in Odessa, Texas.

Digital Pedagogy Coach Stefanie Panke presented “Design Thinking, Maker Pedagogy and Serious Play: Creative Approaches for Effective Learning Spaces” at the 16th annual Transforming the Teaching & Learning Environment virtual conference in February.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Race, Racism and Racial Equality (R3) Symposium will host its eighth event this spring, welcoming Indigenous scholars to share their efforts of advancing racial equity through their research and using anti-oppressive methods in their work. The symposium will be held virtually on April 17 from 2:30–4 p.m. You can register for the event here.

Alexandra Rose ’24 (MSW) presented “Turning Towards Complexity: Tools for Social Workers in Unique Settings: A Museum Case Study,” as part of the Global Caucus’ inaugural event on Tuesday, March 26.

Postdoctoral Research Associate Millicent Robinson presented on the expert panel, “Bonus Chapter 2: Unraveling the John Henryism Phenomenon,” for the Audiobook, “Steel Drivin’ Man: John Henry, the Untold Story of an American Legend,” by Scott Reynolds Nelson.

Associate Professor Sarah E. “Betsy” Bledsoe was invited to present “Clinical Update: Introduction to the Twelve Trauma Informed Practice Elements for Children and Families Surviving Traumatic Stress” at the Clinical Update Conference at South Regional Area Health Education Center in Raleigh in May.

Associate Professor Sarah E. “Betsy” Bledsoe and Research Professor Virginia Strand presented “Advanced Training in Common Trauma Informed Practice Elements: Twelve Strategies for Working with Children and Families Impacted by Traumatic Experiences” at the NC Area Health Education Centers Behavioral Health Directors Meeting.

Associate Professor Sarah E. “Betsy” Bledsoe presented “Introduction to Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) for Depression” for the South Piedmont Area Health Education Center.

Associate Professor Lisa de Saxe Zerden presented “Social work landscape analysis: What educators and researchers need to consider” at the University of South Carolina College of Social Work.

Assistant Professor Bridgette Thom co-authored the presentation “‘The System is Horribly broken‘: Thematic Analysis of Patient Perspectives of Prior Authorization for Cancer Treatment,” that was presented at the American Psychosocial Oncology Society annual conference in Albuquerque, N.M.

Awards, News & Recognition

Associate Professor Sarah E. “Betsy” Bledsoe is the lead principal investigator for the project “Whole Robeson Together: A Feasibility Study of a Support Group for Rural Maternal Mental Health,” which received the rural research engagement and advancement fund at the HER (Health Equity for Rural Mothers and Families) Lab. Anna Fetter (UNC College of Arts and Sciences), Brittany Gordon (Robeson Health Care Corporation), April Oxendine (Robeson County Health Department) and Erica Little (UNC Pembroke) are principal investigators.

Associate Professor Sarah E. “Betsy” Bledsoe was appointed to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network Steering Committee.