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Led by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, the Grand Challenges for Social Work is a groundbreaking initiative to champion social progress powered by science. It’s a call to action for all of us to work together to tackle our nation’s toughest social problems.
This site is dedicated to one of the 12 Grand Challenge initiatives–Close the Health Gap. More than 60 million Americans experience devastating one-two punches to their health—they have inadequate access to basic health care while also enduring the effects of discrimination, poverty, and dangerous environments that accelerate higher rates of illness. Innovative and evidence-based social strategies can improve health care and lead to broad gains in the health of our entire society.
Network Co-Leads to Close the Health Gap: Michael Spencer and Karina Walters.
Our Grand Challenge, Close the Health Gap, has three working groups in the following areas: (1) Population Health through Community and Settings-Based Research and Practice; (2) Strengthening Health Care Systems: Better Health Across America; (3) Reducing and Preventing Alcohol Misuse and Its Consequences. Three working papers were developed for each working group.
Walters, K. L., Spencer, M. S., Smukler, M., Allen, H. L., Andrews, C., Browne, T., … Uehara, E. (2016). Health equity: Eradicating health inequalities for future generations (Grand Challenges for Social Work Initiative Working Paper No. 19). Cleveland, OH: American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.
Begun, A. L., Clapp, J. D., & The Alcohol Misuse Grand Challenge Collective. (2015). Preventing and reducing alcohol misuse and its consequences: A grand challenge for social work (Grand Challenges for Social Work Initiative Working Paper No. 14). Cleveland, OH: American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.
Browne, T., Gehlert, S., Andrews, C. M., Zebrack, B. J., Walther, V. N., Steketee, G., … Merighi, J. R. (2017). Strengthening health care systems: Better health across America (Grand Challenges for Social Work initiative Working Paper No. 22). Cleveland, OH: American Academy of Social Work & Social Welfare.
To engage in the work of the Close the Health Gap Grand Challenge or the Population Health in Communities and Settings workgroup, contact Karina Walters (email@example.com) or Mike Spencer at (firstname.lastname@example.org). To engage Strengthening Health Care Systems workgroup contact Teri Browne (email@example.com) or Sarah Gehlert (firstname.lastname@example.org). To engage in the Reducing and Preventing Alcohol Misuse workgroup, contact Audrey Begun (email@example.com), John Clapp (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Diana DiNitto (email@example.com).
- Join the AASWSW Close the Health Gap Grand Challenge Initiative
- Join the AASWSW Grand Challenges for Social Work
Other ways to engage:
Participate in the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSoA) Social Work Group—contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Participate in the SSWR special interest group on Addictive Behaviors and Substance Misuse—contact email@example.com
Participate in the SSWR special interest group on American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and Global Indigenous Populations–contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Submit work to the SSWR cluster on American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and Global Indigenous Populations, Health, Substance Misuse and Addictive Behaviors.
Submit work to the CSWE track on Addiction or Health
Lobby at your home institutions for greater inclusion of alcohol-related content in the social work curriculum and in-service training programs (the topic is over-looked in the response to the “opiate crisis” and other substances of abuse)
Publications and Policy Action Statements
Spencer, M. S., Walters, K. L., & Clapp, J. D. (2016, September). Policy recommendations for meeting the Grand Challenge to Close the Health Gap (Grand Challenges for Social Work Initiative Policy Brief No. 2). Cleveland, OH: American Academy of Social Work & Social Welfare.
Almgren, G., Spencer, M.S., Walters, K. (2017, June). Promote Full Access to Health Care:_A Policy Action Statement
Spencer, M. S., Walters, K. L., Allen, H. L., Andrews, C., Begun, A., Browne, T., Clapp, J., DiNitto, D., Maramaldi, P., Wheeler, D.P., Zebrack, B., & Uehara, E. (in press). Achieving Health Equity for Future Generations: Priorities for Action in Social Work Research and Practice In J. Lubbin, R. Fong, & R. Barth (eds.) Grand Challenges for Social Work, Oxford Press.
EDITORIAL: The Case for a National Health Social Work Practice-Based Research Network in Addressing Health Equity
A Grand Challenge paper “Reducing and Preventing Alcohol Misuse and Its Consequences- A Grand Challenge for Social Work” by Audrey L. Begun, John D. Clapp, and the Alcohol Misuse Grand Challenge Group was published in the International Journal of Alcohol and Drug Research.
Double special issue of the Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, vol 17, issue1/2, edited by Audrey L. Begun and Diana M. DiNitto: Implementing the Grand Challenge of Reducing and Preventing Alcohol Misuse and Its Consequences
Close the Gap Steering Committee Members:
Karina L. Walters, University of Washington (co-lead)
Michael S. Spencer, University of Michigan (co-lead)
Heidi L. Allen, Columbia University
Christina Andrews, University of South Carolina
Audrey Begun, Ohio State University
Teri Browne, University of South Carolina
John Clapp, Ohio State University
Peter Maramaldi, Simmons College
Bradley Zebrack, University of Michigan
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