Ann-Marie Yamada, PhD, Assistant Professor , Carmen P. Moten, Chief, Primary Care, Socio Cultural, and Disparities in Mental Health Services Research Programs , Betty Garcia, Professor and Thanh V. Tran, Professor, School of Social Work
Sunday, January 18, 2009: 8:45 AM-10:30 AM
Galerie 2 (New Orleans Marriott)
In response to recognized mental health disparities in treatment outcomes for ethnic minorities and the growing diversity of consumers in need of services, there has been an urgent call for integrating culture into evidence-based practice (EBP). The focus on EBP has been bolstered by recognition that awareness and knowledge of ethnic/racial disparities in mental health services have not translated directly into culturally responsive policy, psychosocial interventions or services. The need for culturally adapted EBP interventions is based on limited data asserting that treatments designed for one population may not be equally effective with other groups. The few efforts that have been made to design culturally relevant treatments emphasize interventions aligned with the expectations, needs, and goals of the target cultural group. Yet, few guidelines exist to support researchers in the identification and evaluation of key sociocultural issues that could affect intervention design and delivery of services. These sociocultural factors are defined as issues arising out of socioeconomic and cultural differences and include a variety of contextual issues associated with minority status that are difficult to untangle from cultural beliefs and practices. The lack of compelling evidence to support the effectiveness and the cost inherent in cultural adaptation or creation of theoretically sound EBP interventions has led funding agencies such as the NIMH to question whether these adaptations are cost-effective or necessary. Social work researchers are uniquely poised to offer guidance and direction to the ongoing debate, but have not been central in the dialogue. This roundtable session will provide an opportunity for discussion of timely issues focused on advancing the science of fundable research on mental health disparities and socioculture in services and intervention research protocols. The primary objective of the session is to begin a dialogue about the variety of models, practice frameworks, and strengths-based culturally relevant approaches of social work that can inform and enrich the current state of knowledge and EBP. Presenters will focus particular attention on the situational, cultural, and sociocultural contextual factors that can guide the development of culturally relevant interventions and methodologies. Presenters will share examples based on their experiences with social work practice, teaching, cultural research methods, national professional organizations, and sociocultural-focused NIMH funded research. Presenters will facilitate a dialogue with attendees to address timely questions such as: Are cultural adaptations of social work interventions needed or are these interventions inherently culturally relevant? Given the current demographic shifts in ethnic/racial populations, is it cost-effective to adapt or develop new interventions for specific groups? In light of social work's social justice heritage and service to underserved populations, what can social workers contribute to the knowledge-base that can serve as a foundation for culturally relevant practice and research? The goal of this roundtable is to encourage discussion that moves beyond the superficial dialogue common to conversations regarding “cultural competence.” The ultimate purpose is to highlight promising social work contributions that can demonstrate the leadership potential of social workers in shaping the scientific agenda of NIMH in regards to the development of culturally relevant EBP research.