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Effect of Client's Race/Ethnic Status and Level of Acculturation, and the Influence of Practitioner Characteristics, on Social Workers' Clinical Judgments

Matthews, Janice Geneva

This study examined whether social workers' clinical judgments reflect differences in the client's level of acculturation; or whether their judgments are influenced by the client's race/ethnic status, ignoring important differences in the client's level of acculturation. This study also examined whether the practitioner's race and years of clinical experience moderate these clinical judgments. Finally this study analyzed patterns of differences in the clinical judgments between various racial/cultural/-ethnic client groups.

The primary statistical procedure used in this study was the univariate (mixed-model) ANOVA for repeated measures (mixed-model) designs. The instrument used in this study consisted of sets of questions (The Cross-Cultural Clinical Judgment Inventory), requiring the respondent to make judgments (perceived importance of cultural/ethnic issues) about eight analogues. Two analogues per ethnic group (i.e. Black, Puerto Rican, Polish and Jewish) were provided. The CJI scale had excellent internal consistency reliability, with Coefficients alpha ranging from.92 to.96 for each of the eight analogues.

Results suggest that social workers are sensitive to the client's level of acculturation in their clinical judgments. However, specific comparisons within each of the ethnic group analogues reveal that this is not the case across all client groups. This is, there was an inability to distinguish between levels of acculturation within the two Black family case vignettes.

The analysis also revealed that the practitioner's race did not have a significant effect on clinical judgments. However, the practitioner's years of clinical experience did have significant effect on clinical judgments.

Finally, this study revealed significant differences between (high acculturated) racial minority and White ethnic family analogues; results were not significant with low acculturated analogues.

The finding that the level of acculturation is not differentiated within the Black family analogues provides some empirical evidence to question whether Blacks are seen as a homogeneous group, and if ethnocentrism and stereotypical assumptions cloud systematic differential clinical decision making.

This study also implies that highly acculturated racial minority clients are more at risk of being overassessed with reference to the assumption of the importance of cultural issues, and thus inappropriately served.

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Academic Units
Social Work
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 26, 2015
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