Title

Connecticut professional social workers' and counselors' attitudes toward persons with the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)

Date of Completion

January 1999

Keywords

Health Sciences, Mental Health|Social Work|Education, Guidance and Counseling|Psychology, Clinical

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore Connecticut professional Social Workers' (i.e., Clinical Social Workers and School Social Workers) and Counselors' (i.e., Mental Health Counselors and School Counselors) attitudes toward persons with the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). ^ AIDS presents a challenge to both Social Workers and Counselors, not only in terms of what can be done on behalf of clients, but also how to respond professionally (Wexler, 1989). Therefore, this study utilized a quantitative research methodology (and the AIDS Attitude Scale) to investigate professional Social Workers' and Counselors' self-report measures of their empathy and avoidance attitudes toward persons with AIDS. ^ One hundred and twenty (120) study participants were randomly selected from the membership list of each of these professional associations, i.e., thirty participants selected from each of the four professional associations (N = 120). Each participant (Clinical Social Workers, School Social Workers, Mental Health Counselors, and School Counselors) was mailed a copy of the AIDS Attitude Scale, a consent to participate letter, and a stamped self-addressed envelope. ^ There was a statistically significant difference among Mental Health Counselors, Clinical Social Workers, School Counselors, and School Social Workers, as measured by the Empathy sub-scale of the AIDS Attitude Scale (AAS). The results from the ANOVA and Tukey HSD Post Hoc Test determined that the statistically significant difference was between Clinical Social Workers and School Counselors with regard to the variable empathy (F [3, 89] = 2.583, p < .05). Hence, Clinical Social Workers had statistically significant higher empathy scores. ^ ANOVA procedures indicated statistical significance for the dependent variables as follows: (1) “Years experience in profession” between School Social Workers and Mental Health Counselors (F [3, 89] = 3.307, p < .05). School Social Workers had statistically significant higher years of experience in the profession, and (2) “Know someone with AIDS” between Clinical Social Workers and School Counselors (F [3, 82] = 4.245, p < .05). Hence, Clinical Social Workers had statistical significance with regard to knowing more people with AIDS. ^