Social work education at the Masters level provides advanced clinical training in assessment and intervention of individuals. This training centers the biopsychosocial-spiritual model. However, often sexuality and sexual health (SH) domains aren’t explicitly included in MSW coursework. Knowledge on SH domains can enhance advanced clinical training to address societies most complex problems and social inequities. Few studies within the field of social work research have examined social work educators’ preparedness and willingness to teach SH content. This cross-sectional exploratory study examined factors associated with preparedness and willingness to teach SH content in social work curriculum in social work programs.
The study sample consisted of 151 social work educators from social work programs in the United States. Participants completed an online survey consisting of questions about pedagogical skills in delivering SH content, and intentions to include SH content. Participants were recruited using online study ads, and solicitations on national social work education listservs and newsletters. Data were collected between May 2021 through August 2021.
To examine the relationship between key demographic factors and willingness to teach SH content and preparedness to teach SH content, bivariate analysis was conducted using pearson's correlation coefficient. Multiple linear regressions assessed the associations of attitudes and beliefs on preparedness and willingness to teach SH content. Pearson’s correlation coefficients which were marginally significant (p<.10) and significant (<.05) were included in the respective final multiple linear regression models.
The participants in the study were divided across academic rank, 32% Assistant professors, 20% Associate professors, 12% Full Professors and 22% adjunct or part time professors. On average, social work educators reported 9.7 years (SD=8.57) of educational experience.
Based on the bivariate analysis, willingness to teach SH content was moderately correlated with relevance to course (r=.58, p<.01), engagement of students (r=.65, p<.01), and learning assessments (r=.59, p<.01). Preparedness to teach SH content was moderately correlated with learning assessments (r=.67, p<.01), engagement of students (r=.64, p<.01), and relevance to course (r=.43, p<.01).
For the multiple linear regression models, willingness to teach SH content was associated with relevance of SH content to social work course (β=.21, p<.05), ability to engage students (β=.27, p<.05), exposure to SH content during terminal degree (β=-.10, p<.05), and ability to design learning assessment (β=.19, p<.05). Preparedness to teach SH content was associated with the ability to engage students (β=.19, p<.05), exposure to SH content during terminal degree (β=-.10, p<.05), and ability to design learning assessments (β=.19, p<.05).
Conclusions and Implications:
Social work educators’ willingness and preparedness to teach SH content within social work curriculum are associated with the ability to engage students in intellectual thought, having been exposed to SH content in one’s terminal degree, and the ability to design learning assessments. Implications for social work education include training the next generation of social work practitioners to incorporate SH into assessments of diverse populations. Future studies should explore administrative barriers for the inclusion of sexual health curriculum.