Factors influencing interdisciplinary team member agreement with social worker assessments of domestic violence incidents in the United States Air Force
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This study tested four hypotheses related to the propensity of interdisciplinary team members to agree with clinical social workers in their assessment of alleged spousal abuse incidents. Domestic violence intervention in the United States Air Force (USAF) involves social work evaluation of all suspected cases of spousal maltreatment. Following these assessments, a team of professionals (social work, law enforcement, legal, clergy, health care, family specialists, and military command representatives) entitled the Family Maltreatment Case Management Team (FMCMT) is convened to hear the specifics of the social work evaluation. Decisions are then made regarding whether the incident meets the criteria for abusive behavior (case substantiation); and if so, what services will be provided for the family members (case management). Literature review in the areas of family violence, military social work, group dynamics, group decision-making processes, and interdisciplinary team approaches revealed no prior studies having been conducted on the USAF FMCMT process. One hundred sixty-seven FMCMT members from twenty-two USAF installations completed survey materials to test whether factors such as provision of the social work recommendation, professional affiliation, disciplinary orientation, or task-related experience were predictive of agreement with social worker case assessments. The use of a hierarchical multiple regression analysis method for three of the independent variables (providing versus withholding the social work recommendation, offender-control versus victim-services membership type, and task-related experience level) found only the provision of the social work assessment to be statistically significant (p = .000). However, the modest effect size found suggests the social work influence over team member decision-making did not appear excessive. Standard multiple regression and Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was used to test the fourth independent variable consisting of the professional disciplines that comprise the FMCMT. None of the individual professions were found to differ significantly related to agreement with the social work case assessment. Demographic variables such as age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, and military status were controlled for in an attempt to clarify the relationship between the dependent and independent variables. Implications for policy and practice are discussed, and suggestions for future research are given.