Social Work
Section Newsletter
Winter 2009

A Few Words From the Chair

Jeanne SaundersDear Social Work Section colleagues and friends,

Now that it is February I am really looking forward to Spring and the promise of warmer temps, and hopefully better economic times for everyone.  During the past cold and snowy months here in the Midwest (and many other places as well) it has been nice to remember the warmth of San Diego last October at the Annual Meeting.  It was great to see so many of you there – to reconnect with long-time friends and meet new ones.  I left the meeting feeling energized to continue working during the next year toward our goals and to build the Section with new activities and new members. 

This edition of the newsletter provides an overview of the Annual Meeting, introduces our new Governing Councilor, provides an update on Program Planning for the 2009 Annual Meeting, and calls for nominations for the 2009 Insley-Evans Public Health Social Worker of the Year.  

Also featured in this edition are reflections from three new professionals who attended the Annual Meeting in San Diego,  a brief description of the new discussion board that will be offered by APHA, E-Communities, and some announcements.  Also, please note the deadlines for future editions of the Section Newsletter and send your ideas and contributions for those editions to our newsletter editor. 

I look forward to working with all of you this coming year.


Warm regards,


Jeanne Saunders, PhD, MSSW, LISW

Chair, Social Work Section

Associate Professor and MSW Program Director

University of Iowa School of Social Work

(319) 335-1276

Highlights from Annual Meeting by Tammy Thomas, Secretary

The 2008 Annual Meeting can best be described as, well…great!  Sunny San Diego was a perfect spot for gathering and mingling with fellow public health social workers.  Our festivities started on Sunday night with a “Meet and Greet” business meeting.  Colleagues and friends, both new and old, shared good conversation, updates and planned for the rest of the meeting over delicious refreshments.  This event was graciously sponsored by the University of Iowa School of Social Work and really cultivated a sense of community that was shared throughout the rest of the conference.  Our two morning business meetings, held on Monday and Tuesday, provided another opportunity to share time with colleagues while planning for the upcoming year.  It was wonderful to see so many people around the table and hear the variety of interesting ideas put forth.

The Social Work Section put on eight scientific sessions that resulted in many interesting talks and posters.  A range of sessions included: Social Work Advocacy in Public Health, Public Health Social Work in an Asian and African Country (Invited Session), Global Politics and International Social Work, Immigrant Health and Health Access for Undocumented Individuals, New Challenges in Educating Public Health Social Workers and Kinship Care/Relative Caregivers.  Our poster session also provided an opportunity to highlight the multiplicity of interests in our field.  One of our sessions was held in conjunction with other sections and caucuses highlighting the work of the Spirit of 1848. 

Monday evening was reserved for our Social Hour and The Insley-Evans Public Social Worker of the Year Award.  This year we celebrated and paid tribute to Ed Saunders, PhD, Director and Associate Professor, University of Iowa, School of Social Work.  This event was kindly sponsored by The University of Tennessee College of Social Work, the University of Buffalo School of Social Work - State University of New York and the California section of NASW.   

The APHA Annual Meeting is one of my favorite events of the year because it affords me the opportunity to get together with other public health social workers.  Like others, this is the only time that I am surrounded by people who are doing similar work and who share a like-minded philosophy.  I’m sure that the 2009 will bring another successful meeting for the Social Work Section.  For those who have not participated, please join us.  We look forward to meeting you. For those seasoned members of our Section, I will see you in Philadelphia.

Introducing the New Governing Councilor - Bari Cornet

Bari CornetBari Cornet is the newest member on the APHA Governing Council to represent the Social Work Section.  Bari attended the University of California at Berkeley as an undergraduate where she also received her MSW ('85) and MPH ('86).    With a short detour to work for the state of California and Alameda County on issues of comprehensive perinatal care and access, she returned to teach at the School of Social Welfare at the University of California.  She currently fills the role of Field Work Consultant and Lecturer for those students interested in macro practice.  In addition, she plays a significant role in the development and implementation of the Dual and Concurrent MSW/MPH Degree programs at Berkeley.  Her teaching focuses on program planning as well as facilitating the Public Health Social Work and Macro practice integrative seminars.

In addition to involvement in the academic community, Bari serves of the Board of Global Pediatric Alliance, a small non-profit organization improving access to health care for mothers and children in south and central America.

Bari has been a member of APHA since 1985 and a Social Work Section member for much of that period.  She has served as membership chair, newsletter editor, Section Councilor, and now member of the APHA Governing Council.  She has participated in Section activities as a presenter and as an abstract reviewer for various APHA Annual Meetings.  She was the winner of the 2007 Insley Evans Public Health Social Worker of the Year Award.

Apart from her professional life, Bari likes to travel, dive and participate in the UC Alumni Chorus, which performs internationally.  She is a lover of wine and  continues work on her stamp collection which began over 50 years ago.

Submit an Abstract for the 2009 Annual Meeting

Hello fellow Social Work Section Members: Rob Keefe

I am pleased to once again serve as the program planner for the social work section.  This exciting role allows me the opportunity to engage many of my fellow section members as well as the program planners from the other sections in disseminating important public health research at our conference.  The theme of this year’s conference, to be held in Philadelphia between 11/7 and 11/11, is “Water and Public Health”.  I hope that many of you will submit abstracts.

Abstracts must be submitted by February 19, 2009.  To submit an abstract simply follow the steps outlined below:

  1. Log on to your computer and go to
  2. Click on "Annual Meeting & Exposition" located on the top margin of the page
  3. Click on "Annual Meeting Highlights" also located on the top margin of the page
  4. Click on "Scientific Sessions" located in the left column, fourth item down
  5. Click on "How to become a Presenter" located about 1/3 of the way down the page
  6. Click on "2009 Call for Abstracts", which is the top link
  7. Scroll halfway down the page and click on "Social Work"
  8. Click on "Submit abstract" located on the top right-hand corner and follow the prompts from there.

As I mentioned to you in a prior email, the section leadership is well aware that some of the dates of this year's conference overlap with the Annual Program Meeting of the Council on Social Work Education which is scheduled for 11/6 - 11/9.  I have had conference calls with the APHA Planning Council and informed them that many of our presenters will likely have scheduling conflicts if they happen to have papers accepted at both conferences.  APHA has been very flexible in allowing us to schedule most of our paper and poster presentations later in the conference, after the APM conference has finished.  In order to maximize the attendance at the conference and to assure that the most outstanding abstracts will be delivered, I will contact authors of accepted papers/posters to inform them that their papers/posters have been accepted and to find out if there are dates that they cannot attend APHA due to scheduling conflict with APM.

Finally, we especially hope that first-time presenters and students will submit abstracts.  This year the section will be awarding its first outstanding student paper award to one PhD student and one MSW/BSW student.  Recipients will receive a conference-fee waiver.

I hope that you will submit an abstract and encourage others to do so as well and that we will get the chance to meet in Philadelphia.

With warm regards,
Rob Keefe, PhD, ACSW
Program Planner

Insley-Evans Public Health Social Worker of the Year Nominations are Now Open

Each year the Social Work section honors a public health social worker at the Annual Meeting with the Insley-Evans Public Health Social Worker of the Year award.  The award is named in honor of Virginia Insley and Jaunita Evans, two pioneers in public health social work and long time members of the Social Work section of APHA.  Recipients of the award are recognized for their contribution to public health social work in the areas of direct practice, organization and planning, administration, education, research, publications and contributions to professional organizations.

The honor is awarded to an individual who meets the  following criteria:

  1. Outstanding achievement in any of the following areas in public health social work, preferably two or more areas: direct practice, organizational and planning, administration, education, research, publication, contribution to professional organizations (e.g., Social Work Section, APHA, NASW, medical Social Consultants).
  2. "Outstanding achievement" is reflected in sustained recognition by peers, beyond the recipient's immediate setting and preferably including other public health disciplines.
  3. Membership in the APHA Social Work Section is preferred but not required.

Ed SaundersTo nominate an individual for this award, email a letter of nomination to the Chair of the Awards Committee, Ed Saunders ( by May 1, 2009.  Your letter should identify how the nominee meets the criteria stated above.

First Impressions

Just as the leaves had all turned brown and the bitter New England cold was about to move in, four MSW/MPH students from Boston University made the not-very-difficult decision to travel to San Diego this past October. But we came for more than the sun. New to the field, we brought with us an excitement and readiness to get involved in APHA and to further our understanding of public health, and our particular focus, public health social work. We were astounded by the size of the conference, but felt at home in the unique orientation of public health social work; an orientation we proudly feel reflects diversity and encompasses both macro and clinical fields.

In addition to attending events at the Annual Meeting, we presented papers and posters on a range of topics. These included: studies on suicide prevention education in MSW programs; evaluation of support groups for adults with Asperger’s Syndrome; assessment of the community health worker workforce in Massachusetts; and research on health care access for men who have sex with men. We took full advantage of the opportunity to network with other students and professionals across the country and particularly enjoyed the various programs sponsored by the Social Work Section.

As four co-students and friends, we reflect the varied interests of the public health social work field. Rebekah Gowler’s focus is the development and evaluation of policies and programs that address social determinants of health including poverty, education and the environment. Kathryn Jantz is interested in the financing of health care, particularly as it pertains to seniors and children with special health care needs. Abby Ross is interested in expanding evidence-based practices to include culturally responsive adaptations that increase access to services for specific populations.  And my personal goals include reforming our national health delivery system as well as restorative justice interventions with criminal justice populations.

Although our careers will no doubt follow very different paths - from research and academia to direct service - we hope that the Social Work Section of APHA will provide us with a professional community and “home base” that will embrace and support our diverse professional goals and push us to be better public health social work practitioners. We as students have many hopes for the Section: we’d like to see more roles developed for students; we are anxious to connect with other students within APHA and in other MSW/MPH programs; and we are hopeful for more mentoring and career development opportunities. We are eager to contribute as well and hope that we can be part of a renewed dialogue about how to increase Section participation, attendance and membership in the coming year.

In conclusion, we loved attending APHA 2008, and appreciated meeting many of you. We look forward to connecting again.

Respectfully yours,  
Amanda Horowitz, MSW

Donations Needed to Grow Our Enrichment Account

The Social Work Section has established an Enrichment Account with APHA – to enrich our activities - and is seeking donations from individuals and other entities (e.g. agencies, Schools of Social Work, state chapters of NASW).  APHA provides funds to each section based upon membership – these funds cover the Section’s “operating expenses” but do not cover receptions at the Annual Meeting or other activities the Section chooses to undertake.  For example, at the Annual Meetings the last few years there have been discussions about establishing a “student scholarship fund” to encourage their membership in the Section.  Support for the scholarship fund would come from the Enrichment Account.  At the Annual Meeting in San Diego we were able to enjoy two wonderful receptions (the Sunday Meet and Greet and honoring the Insley-Evans Public Health Social Worker of the Year) with support from donations to the Enrichment Account.

No donation is too small (or too large).  Please consider talking with your agency or School of Social Work about making a donation to the Social Work Section or making a personal donation.  Please contact Section Chair Jeanne Saunders to make arrangements for any donations to the Enrichment account.

E-Communities are Coming!

APHA is rolling out the E-Communities discussion boards this spring to support discussion and communication among Section members.  Each section will establish an E-Community for topics they identify as being important and timely.  Members will have the option to join the E-Community and take part in the discussion or share information about the topic.  At the Annual Meeting, some of the topics suggested for E-Communities included:  membership issues, gathering the history of the Section, policy issues, and program planning.

Details about E-Communities and information about how to join them will be forthcoming.  If you have ideas for other topics for an E-Community please contact Section Chair Jeanne Saunders at

Looking Ahead

The Spring issue of the newsletter will be published in June.

The Fall issue of the newsletter will be published in September/October. 

Please send your

  • Articles
  • Announcements
  • Photos
  • Book Reviews
  • Project Updates
  • News
  • Notes

for the upcoming Spring Newsletter to the editor,
Jennifer Saunders, at in May!

19th Annual APHA Public Health Materials Contest

The APHA Public Health Education and Health Promotion Section is soliciting your best health education, promotion and communication materials for the 19th annual competition. The contest provides a forum to showcase public health materials during the APHA Annual Meeting and recognizes professionals for their hard work.

All winners will be selected by panels of expert judges prior to the 137th APHA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.  A session will be held at the Annual Meeting to recognize winners, during which one representative from the top materials selected in each category will give a presentation about their material.

Entries will be accepted in three categories; printed materials, electronic materials, and other materials.  Entries for the contest are due by March 27, 2009.  Please contact Kira McGroarty at for additional contest entry information.

Three New Reports from the HCUP Statistical Brief Series

The Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) recently released three reports from the HCUP Statistical Brief series, and they have been added to the HCUP User Support Web site.

One in Five Hospital Admissions Are for Patients with Mental Disorders

About 1.4 million hospitalizations in 2006 involved patients who were admitted for a mental illness, while another 7.1 million patients had a mental disorder in addition to the physical condition for which they were admitted, according to a recent report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The 8.5 million hospitalizations involving patients with mental illness represented about 22 percent of the overall 39.5 million hospitalizations in 2006. AHRQ's analysis found that of the nearly 1.4 million hospitalizations specifically for treatment of a mental disorder in 2006:

  • Nearly 730,000 involved depression or other mood disorders, such as bipolar disease.
  • Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders caused another 381,000.
  • Delirium — which can cause agitation or inability to focus attention — dementia, amnesia and other cognitive problems accounted for 131,000.
  • Anxiety disorders and adjustment disorders — stress-related illnesses that can affect feeling, thoughts, and behaviors — accounted for another 76,000.
  • The remaining roughly 34,000 hospitalizations involved attention-deficit disorder, disruptive behavior, impulse control, personality disorders, or mental disorders usually diagnosed in infancy or later childhood.

These findings are based on data from Hospital Stays Related to Mental Health, 2006 (HCUP Statistical Brief #62). The report uses statistics from the 2006 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.
Lung Cancer Rates Dropping but Hospitalization Rates Remain Constant

Hospital admissions for lung cancer remained relatively stable at roughly 150,000 a year between 1995 and 2006 despite a steady decline in the number of Americans diagnosed with the disease, according to a recent report AHRQ.

Admissions have remained constant, in part, because lung cancer patients are surviving longer and undergoing more hospital-related treatments such as chemotherapy and tumor-removal surgery, according to AHRQ experts. Smoking is considered a main cause of lung cancer — the most deadly type of cancer — but the disease can also result from exposure to hazardous substances such as asbestos, radon, pollution or second-hand smoke, as well as genetic predisposition to the disease.

AHRQ's analysis also found that:

  • The average hospital cost for a lung cancer patient in 2006 was $14,200 (about $1,900 a day). The total cost for all patients was about $2.1 billion.
  • The death rate of hospitalized lung cancer patients was 13 percent — five times higher than the average overall death rate (2.6 percent) for hospitalized patients.
  • Only 2.4 percent of hospitalized lung cancer patients in 2006 were younger than 44. About 63 percent were 65 or older.
  • Hospitalizations for lung cancer were far more common in the South (89 admissions per 100,000 persons) than in the Northeast (25 admissions per 100,000 persons).

These findings are based on data from Hospital Stays for Lung Cancer, 2006 (HCUP Statistical Brief # 63). The report uses statistics from the 2006 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.

Pressure Ulcers Increasing Among Hospital Patients

Hospitalizations involving patients with pressure ulcers—either developed before or after admission—increased by nearly 80 percent between 1993 and 2006, according to a recent report from AHRQ.

Pressure ulcers, also called bed sores, typically occur among patients who can't move or have lost sensation. Prolonged periods of immobility put pressure on the skin, soft tissue, muscle, or bone, causing ulcers to develop. Older patients, stroke victims, people who are paralyzed, or those with diabetes or dementia are particularly vulnerable. Pressure ulcers may indicate poor quality of care at home, in a nursing home, or hospital. Severe cases can lead to life-threatening infections.

AHRQ's analysis found that of the 503,300 pressure ulcer-related hospitalizations in 2006:

  • Pressure ulcers were the primary diagnosis in about 45,500 hospital admissions — up from 35,800 in 1993.
  • Pressure ulcers were a secondary diagnosis in 457,800 hospital admissions — up from 245,600 in 1993. These patients, admitted primarily for pneumonia, infections, or other medical problems, developed pressure ulcers either before or after admission.
  • Among hospitalizations involving pressure ulcers as a primary diagnosis, about 1 in 25 admissions ended in death. The death rate was higher when pressure ulcers were a secondary diagnosis — about 1 in 8.
  • Pressure ulcer-related hospitalizations are longer and more expensive than many other hospitalizations. While the overall average hospital stay is 5 days and costs about $10,000, the average pressure ulcer-related stay extends to between 13 and 14 days and costs between $16,755 and $20,430, depending on medical circumstances.

These findings are based on data from Hospitalizations Related to Pressure Ulcers Among Adults 18 Years and Older, 2006. The report uses statistics from the 2006 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.

Hospitalizations Declining for Digestive System Bleeding

Improved treatments for acid reflux disease, ulcers, arthritis, and other conditions helped reduce hospital admission rates for internal bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract by 14 percent from 1998 to 2006, according to a recent report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract extends from the mouth to the duodenum, part of the small intestine. Bleeding in this area can be caused by ulcers, taking aspirin, and other pain medicines, and alcoholism.

AHRQ's analysis showed:

  • The hospitalization rate for upper GI bleeding declined from 96 cases per 100,000 people in 1998 (259,299 total cases) to 82 cases per 100,000 people in 2006 (246,297 cases). Potential reasons for the decline include increased use of medications that reduce gastric acid such as proton pump inhibitors; antibiotic treatment of gastric ulcers, caused by the H pylori bacteria; and increased use of the newer COX-2 inhibitor medicines for arthritis or other pain.
  • In 2006, hospitalizations for upper GI bleeding covered a wide age range — 47 percent of admissions for patients 65 to 84; 25 percent for patients 45 to 64; 18 percent for patients older than 85; and 10 percent for patients under 45.
  • The number of hospital patients who died from upper GI bleeding fell from 20,013 in 1998 to 16,344 in 2006.

These findings are based on data from Hospitalizations for Gastrointestinal Bleeding in 1998 and 2006 (HCUP Statistical Brief #65). The report uses statistics from the 1998 and 2006 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.