The state of substance use education in Master of Social Work programs: A content analysis of course listings and faculty profiles.

Research paper by Dane D Minnick

Indexed on: 09 Mar '19Published on: 05 Mar '19Published in: Substance abuse


Substance use is currently a pervasive problem among a large proportion of populations served by the social work profession. Several studies have indicated that social workers routinely provide services to clients with direct and indirect substance use needs, making knowledge of substance use interventions and public policies a necessity for social workers to operate effectively in the field. However, despite the regularity of interaction with substance using clients, previous research has suggested that a significant deficit of substance use education currently exists in Master of Social Work (MSW) programs. To determine the extent of substance use education currently offered by master's-level schools of social work, a content analysis of course listings and full-time faculty profiles was performed on all Council on Social Work Education-accredited programs in the United States (N = 263). The goals of the content analysis were (1) to identify the current prevalence and content of substance use education offered to entire cohorts of MSW students at the national and programmatic levels and (2) to examine the capacity of the full-time MSW faculty workforce to deliver substance use education to MSW students in individual programs. The results of the analyses showed that a significant deficit of formal substance use education does exist in the field of social work education, and that a large proportion of programs lack the faculty personnel necessary to sufficiently offer substance use education to their students. The social work profession needs to make a concerted effort to improve substance use education if social work is to ethically and effectively remain at the forefront of mental health practice in the United States.