This study conducted a content analysis to assess the presence of social work intervention-based research on racial/ethnic minoritized groups and examine the level of treatment of race and ethnicity in the articles in three major social work journals, Social Work, Social Work Research, and Social Service Review published between 2010 and 2019.
Methods: The three journals were selected because they are national in scope, generally considered to be the major journals in social work, providing coverage of the period of the analysis, and representing no one specialization within social work. From the articles published in the three journals between 2010 and 2019, only empirical articles were screened for inclusion if they addressed actual U. S. social work interventions with any racial/ethnic minoritized groups, primarily or secondarily, including Asian Americans, African Americans, Latinx or Hispanic Americans, and Indigenous or Native Americans. Authors independently coded the articles and recorded their responses on an Excel sheet. Articles in which the authors disagreed, were reread, and discussed until agreement was achieved.
Findings: From a total of 773 empirical articles published during the 10-year period, 85 articles (11%) met the inclusion criteria of utilizing interventions with racial/ethnic minoritized groups regardless of the level of treatment of race and ethnicity. Social Work published 23 intervention-based articles from 300 empirical articles (7.7%), Social Work Research published 31 from 273 (11.4%), and Social Service Review published 31 from 200 (16%). Of 85 intervention-based studies on racial/ethnic minoritized groups, only 23 articles (27.1%) treated racial/ethnic minoritized groups as their primary focus: Social Work (43.5%) and Social Work Research (32.3%) each published 10 articles that treated racial/ethnic minoritized groups as their primary focus, whereas only 3 articles from Social Service Review (10%) used racial/ethnic minorized groups as their primary focus. The rest (72.9%) of the 85 intervention-based studies treated racial/ethnic minoritized groups as part of control variables without primary focus.
Conclusion and Implications: The study findings raise a question whether the current social work research is well aligned with social work professional mission, values, and principles. Social work researchers should engage more in intervention-based research that primarily centers on racial/ethnic minoritized groups to address and transform racial discrimination, systemic oppression, poverty, and other forms of social and racial injustice experienced by racial/ethnic minoritized groups.