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Editor's e-Note
When it comes to health care, rural populations typically are at a disadvantage compared with their urban cohorts. This includes mental health services.

At last year’s Council on Social Work Education’s 2020 Annual Program Meeting, the findings from a study conducted at a primary care clinic in rural West Virginia illustrated how a universal suicide risk screening program in such a setting could be a difference maker.

Learn about the details in this month’s E-News Exclusive.

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— Lee DeOrio, editorial director
e-News Exclusive
Suicide Risk Screening in Rural Primary Care
By Heather Hogstrom

In the United States, suicide rates are disproportionately higher in rural areas than urban areas. Data from 2001 to 2015 show that the suicide rate per 100,000 population was 17.32 in nonmetropolitan/rural counties compared with 14.86 in medium/small metropolitan counties and 11.92 in large metropolitan counties. Having access to behavioral health professionals is also more difficult in nonmetropolitan areas, so individuals in these areas are more likely to seek out primary care providers (PCPs). This makes primary care a critical intervention point for suicide prevention in rural areas.

One study, conducted at a primary care clinic in rural West Virginia, evaluated the feasibility and impact of a universal suicide risk screening program in rural adult primary care. Mary LeCloux, PhD, LICSW, an assistant professor and MSW program director at West Virginia University, discussed results of this study in a presentation for the Council on Social Work Education’s 2020 Annual Program Meeting. The study used the Ask Suicide Screening Questions (ASQ) Toolkit in tandem with the Brief Suicide Safety Assessment (BSSA), and determined whether the implementation of these tools as a universal suicide risk screening program would significantly decrease the frequency of screening and suicide risk detection compared with treatment as usual.

The first phase of the study established the baseline, during which the PCP delivered services as usual, and an onsite research assistant mined the electronic medical records for screening questions, level of risk, and disposition plans. Then the intervention phase approached 340 patients and found 204 willing to watch a brief consent video (consent was required because this was a study). Of those, 196 patients consented to be screened, and 194 completed the ASQ electronically. The PCP viewed the results in real time.

Most (175) of the patients who were screened were found to be no/low risk, and therefore didn’t need follow up. Those who did screen positive on the ASQ were identified as either acute (one patient) or nonacute (19 patients) risk and received the intervention—the PCP administered the BSSA and completed disposition planning (i.e., going to the emergency department, going home with a mental health referral, receiving a safety plan, or following up with the PCP).

Full story »
Industry Insight
Michigan Health System, University Partner to Improve Health Care Access

Henry Ford Health System and Michigan State University (MSU), two of Michigan’s leading education, research, and health care institutions, are partnering to make the state a national leader in providing access to exceptional health care for all residents, scientific discovery, and education for providers, patients, and families.

In a landmark partnership that will last for at least 30 years, both institutions are committed to aligning efforts across key departments and programs to achieve critical health care and educational goals, while addressing social issues that impact health outcomes for patients in Michigan and beyond.

The signing of this agreement comes just seven months after Henry Ford and MSU signed a letter of intent to significantly expand their long-term partnership, among the first of its kind for the region between a fully integrated academic health system and major state university.

Read more »
Products & Services
University of Kentucky Launches Online Social Work Undergraduate Degree

Helping people in need is more than a career—it’s a calling. Now, students can answer that calling by earning a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work (BASW) from the University of Kentucky completely online.

Times are tumultuous, and 2020 has brought challenges like never before. From a public health crisis to movements against social injustice, communities are in critical need of continued support. Social workers aim to provide that support by offering services to improve overall safety and well-being.

The hope is, behind every person or community going through a difficult challenge—abuse, addiction, discrimination, poverty—a social worker is there to help address it.

Unfortunately, that's not always the case.

“Now, there is a heightened need for social workers who are trained to explore and implement innovative solutions to society’s most pressing challenges,” says Jay Miller, PhD, CSW, dean of the College of Social Work (CoSW). “By extending our undergraduate degree offering into the virtual space, we are creating opportunities for more people to actualize their goals of becoming social work professionals in their communities.”

Read more »
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