Abstract: Examining the Self-Care Practices of Social Work Administrators: A Cross-Sectional Investigation (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

387P Examining the Self-Care Practices of Social Work Administrators: A Cross-Sectional Investigation

Friday, January 18, 2019
Continental Parlors 1-3, Ballroom Level (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
J. Jay Miller, Asst. Prof, University of Kentucky, KY
Jessica Donohue-Dioh, Asst. Prof, Campbellsville University, KY
Shelagh Larkin, MSW, Student, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Allison Gibson, Asst. Prof, University of Kentucky, KY

Over the past two decades, authors, researchers, and professional entities alike have increasingly issued clarion calls for more attention to self-care within social services. More recently, empirical investigations as well as popular media, have echoed this sentiment. This increased attention to self-care is necessitated by contemporary workplace challenges such as complex caseloads, workplace bullying/mobbing, vicarious trauma, professional burnout, etc.

Increased attention notwithstanding research about self-care as a general construct and that examining self-care practices within social work, specifically, is nominal Of particular paucity are studies that examine self-care among a key social work constituency: social work administrators. This study seeks to address this limitation in the current literature.


This cross-sectional, exploratory study investigated the personal and professional self-care practices of current social work administrators (N = 201) employed in one southeastern state. Specifically, this study investigated how social work administrators fare in terms of self-care, and variable relationships that may affect self-care practices.

To collect primary data for this study, the researchers utilized the Self-Care Practices Scale to measure personal and professional self-care practices of participants. Researchers sent an electronic survey invitation to social service agencies. Potential participants were asked to consider taking part in the study and/or to forward the survey invitation to others in their network. All participants identified as administrators at a social service agency.

All data collected for this study was analyzed via IBM SPSS version 24.0. Univariate/bivariate analyses were performed to examine descriptive characteristics of the sample and examine correlations between demographic and professional characteristics. ANOVAs or independent sample t-tests were conducted to investigate differences between key categorical variables with appropriate sample sizes at each level on the dependent variables (i.e., self-compassion and self-care scores). Lastly, multivariate analyses were performed to explore the effects key predictor variables may have on self-care practices.


Findings suggest that administrators engage in self-care with some regularity, which is inconsistent with previous, albeit limited, research about self-care and social workers. Results revealed significant relationships for personal self-care and years in social work practice and perceived health status. Professional self-care was significantly correlated with hours worked per week years in social work practice, and perceived health status.

Data indicate significant group differences in professional and personal self-care practices, alike, by financial status. In summary, those with greater financial stability reported engaging in significantly higher self-care practices. Multiple regression analyses revealed that perceived health status and years in social work practice significantly predicted personal and professional self-care practices, respectively.


This study is the first known to the authors to explicitly examine personal and professional self-care among social work administrators. Findings from this study suggest that administrators engage in self-care regularly, which is inconsistent with previous research on social work practitioners. This study offers pragmatic educational and practice implications for improving self-care practices among administrators, specifically, and social workers, more generally.