Social Welfare 579 A

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University of Washington

Fall 2009

School of Social Work


Social Welfare 579 A

9:30 a.m.-12:20 p.m.

J. David Hawkins, Ph.D.

Room: SSW 125





This course presents an overview of theory, research, and practice in prevention science. A developmental perspective is used to focus on factors that promote or inhibit healthy development at different stages and during transitions. The focus is from before birth through age 21. Topics include the promotion of healthy development in childhood and adolescence and the prevention of child abuse and neglect, developmental delays, early pregnancy, violence and delinquent behavior, school misbehavior, dropout; and mental health disorders, including conduct disorders and substance abuse.

The National Research Council and Institute of Medicine’s Mental Health Intervention Spectrum is used as a framework to distinguish mental health promotion and universal, selective, and indicated prevention from treatment. The course demonstrates how prevention science is built on the foundations of epidemiological research and etiological research on predictors of health, mental health, and behavior problems including research from neuroscience, genetics, developmental psychopathology, social welfare, sociology, and economics. The course follows the preventive intervention research cycle to explore the role of clinical and field trials in identifying efficacious and effective preventive interventions. Economic analyses of the costs and benefits of effective preventive interventions are discussed. Approaches, results, and issues in large scale, community preventive interventions are also explored. Finally, opportunities and prospects for dissemination of effective preventive interventions and research on dissemination are investigated.

This course seeks to increase opportunity for interdisciplinary dialogue. Students interested in designing a course of study in preventive research will develop application knowledge relevant to their interventive and substantive areas. The seminar includes guest faculty who are specialists in course topics.


  1. Able to describe stages in the preventive intervention research cycle.

  2. Able to describe the importance, from a public health perspective, of understanding the incidence and prevalence of the outcome of concern in designing preventive interventions.

  3. Able to present the current evidence regarding incidence and prevalence of a health, mental health, or behavior outcome chosen by the student.

  4. Able to present the current evidence regarding the co-occurrence of the outcome chosen by the student and other health, mental health, and behavior problems.

  5. Able to describe the empirically identified predictors of the health, mental health, or behavior outcome of concern to the student.

  6. Able to present the current evidence regarding biological and environmental promotive, risk and protective factors, their points or periods of developmental salience, and their interactions in the etiology of a health, mental health or behavior problem chosen by the student.

  7. Able to recognize adequately conducted efficacy and effectiveness trials of preventive interventions with respect to design, measurement and analysis.

  8. Able to describe the degree to which efficacious and/or effective interventions have been identified that affect the outcome chosen by the student.

  9. Able to describe tested, and efficacious or effective interventions that have been found to affect the outcome chosen by the student.

  10. Able to identify any results of these interventions beyond the student’s focal outcome.

  11. Able to describe the origins and current state of community wide prevention approaches.

  12. Able to describe the elements of cost-benefit analysis and applications to prevention science.

  13. Able to describe issues and current progress in moving from efficacy trials to effectiveness trials and dissemination.

  14. Able to formulate emerging research questions regarding epidemiology, etiology, preventive interventions, or dissemination of preventive interventions as appropriate to the student’s chosen outcome.


Assigned readings are relevant to each session of the seminar. Please complete readings before each class session. Seminar leadership will be shared. Each student will identify a health, mental health, or behavior outcome of concern and develop and share expertise with regard to existing research evidence on prevalence, predictors, and preventive interventions relevant to that outcome, specifically:

  1. the outcome, its incidence and prevalence in the general population and in ethnic, gender, and other subpopulations;

  2. co-morbidity or co-variation of the outcome with other health, mental health, and behavior outcomes;

  3. current research evidence concerning biopsychosocial predictors of the outcome;

  4. current research evidence regarding efficacious and effective interventions to reduce risk, enhance protection, and change the incidence and prevalence of the outcome;

  5. current substantive and methodological issues that need to be addressed in prevention research studies focused on the outcome, with a focus on issues the student may choose to address in subsequent research.

Students are encouraged to make scheduled presentations to the class on these topics as related to their chosen outcome.


The three-credit course will be graded credit/no credit. Expectations for credit are: completion of assigned reading before class sessions, active participation in the seminar sessions, and a scheduled 20 minute individual meeting with the instructor during finals week for which the student should come prepared to show competence with respect to three of the course objectives, one of which must be Objective 14.

Appointments and Assistance:

I will be available to meet with students in my office (211-C) in the School of Social Work on Wednesdays, 12:30-1:30 p.m. or by appointment. Please contact my assistant, Shelley Logan, at 206.543.6742 / to schedule an appointment. I can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 206.543.7655.

Services for Students with Disabilities

At the SSW we are committed to ensuring access to classes, course material, and learning opportunities for students with disabilities. If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disability Resources for Students, 448 Schmitz, 206-543-8924/V, 206-543-8925/TTY. If you have a letter from the office of Disability Resources for Students indicating you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to me so we can discuss the accommodations you might need for this class.

Policy on Plagiarism

The student conduct code of the University of Washington requires students to practice "high standards of academic and professional honesty and integrity." In addition, the School of Social Work's academic standards specify that students may be dismissed for "academic cheating, lying, or plagiarism." Students who are suspected of cheating or plagiarism will be confronted directly by the instructor, who will inform the program director and the assistant dean for student affairs. Instructors will not award credit for work that has been plagiarized. The instructor, director and assistant dean will determine if the student's actions warrant disciplinary action, which may include probation or dismissal. Your program manual contains a fuller explanation of plagiarism and suggestions for avoiding it.


SSW Library

  • Locate items on the Web Catalog under Course Reserves by course or professor, or go to MY UW.

  • Reserve readings are listed alphabetically by title (book, journal, or personal item) along with their shelving location

  • Reserve stacks are organized into 5 sections: Practicum Binders, General Interest Reserve, Binders by Class, Journals by Title, Books by Call Number.

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