A Review of 10-Year Trends of Intervention Studies in Social Work in South Korea
Method: Four social work journals were selected using the following criteria: peer-reviewed, ranked in the journal index of the Korean Research Foundation, related to social work, and published intervention studies between 2002 and 2013. The four journals were Korean Journal of Social Welfare, Korean Journal of Family Social Work, Korean Journal of Social Welfare Studies, and Mental Health and Social Work. Three researchers reviewed intervention studies published in the four journals and cross-checked the results. Information on year, title, authors, sample size, intervention design, randomized control trial, follow-up, and format of intervention (individual vs. group) were assessed and information was coded using SPSS.
Results: Results indicated that intervention studies represented only 4.2% (n = 67) of 1,585 published papers in the four major social work journals. A majority of published papers were empirical studies (56.0%), followed by qualitative/conceptual studies (16.7%), policy analysis studies (11.7%), and others (11.4%). Among the 67 intervention studies, only four (6.0%) studies indicated they were randomized control trials and about half (55.2%) used control or comparison groups. In terms of follow-up, 22.4% of the intervention studies tracked participants over time to evaluate the long-term effectiveness of interventions. No intervention studies featured any language related to EBP in their published form.
Implications for practice and policy: Because there is no particular journal dedicated to intervention studies in social work in South Korea, the four selected journals represent the most likely venue for practitioners and researchers to share evidence from their intervention trials. However, intervention studies published over 10 years comprised only 4.2% of all published papers. Moreover, most of the intervention studies reviewed were not rigorously designed and evaluated. Overall, it is apparent that intervention studies in social work in South Korea are lacking in both quantity and quality. Practitioners and researchers in social work should be motivated to embrace intervention studies, a critical component of effectively diffusing the concept of EBP in South Korea.