LINDSAY DIANNE SHEPARD portrait
  • Grad student, College Of Social Work
801-581-4829

Research Statement

My goal for social work is for practitioners, policy-makers, and researchers to collaborate towards the production and application of evidence in social work decision-making.  Consequently, while my research interests span other important topics and populations, I see no area of research more critical and timely for social work than evidence-informed practice and systematic reviews.  Evidence-informed practice is “the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual[s]” and calls for decision makers, such as social workers, to transparently incorporate high-quality scientific research into their decision-making (Sackett, Rosenberg, Gray, Haynes, & Richardson, 1996, p. 71).  The most helpful and high-quality form of evidence for this is considered to be systematic reviews, or reviews “that strive to comprehensively identify, appraise, and synthesize all the relevant studies on a given topic” (Petticrew & Roberts, 2006, p. 19).  Due to their perceived utility, systematic reviews are increasingly implicated in social work (Gambrill, 1999; Gibbs & Gambrill, 2002; Littell, 2005; Thyer 2002; Thyer, 2008; Yaffe, 2013).  However, the extent of social work specific contribution to the production and utilization of systematic reviews appears limited in spite of national ethical guidelines implicating social workers’ contribution to and application of research evidence (Gordon, Cooper, & Dumbleton, 2009; Mullen, Shlonsky, Bledsoe, & Bellamy, 2005; Proctor & Rosen, 2008; Rosen, 1994).  This indicates that the development and expansion of systematic reviews in social work might have critical implications for social work discourse, practice, policy, education, research, and consumers.

Consequently, my primary research interest is systematic reviews.  For my MSc thesis in Evidence-Based Social Intervention at the University of Oxford, 2008-2009, I completed a systematic review exploring the mental health of polygamous women.  Then as a research assistant in the Centre for Evidence Based Intervention at the University of Oxford, 2009-2010, I helped update two systematic reviews about sleep disorders in older people.  Since 2010, I have collaborated on The Cochrane Empty Reviews Project, funded by the Cochrane Opportunities fund (£24,200 project total), to explore the characteristics and reporting of systematic reviews with no included studies.  Finally and more recently, I have directed my dissertation at the exploration of systematic reviews in social work journals. My efforts in systematic reviews, to date, have resulted in three peer reviewed article publications, one book chapter, and seven conference presentations in premier avenues such as Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, PLoS One, and the Cochrane and Campbell colloquia. 

I also have five articles in preparation for publication in the coming couple of years; three of these are my dissertation research and will be submitted to leading social work and systematic review journals such as Research on Social Work Practice and Systematic Reviews. They explore the incidence and prevalence, methodological and reporting quality, and topics and accessibility of systematic reviews in social work journals. Another one article is from the The Cochrane Empty Reviews Project commenting on the reporting of implications for practice in empty systematic reviews; it will be submitted to a high impact journal, such as PLoS One or Systematic Reviews. Another article examines qualitative interviews with Cochrane and Campbell Collaboration contributors of social work background regarding the potential relevance of the production and use of systematic reviews in social work. Preliminary analyses of these interviews have already been presented as a poster at a Cochrane Colloquium, but might also be published as a manuscript in a social work journal, such as Research on Social Work Practice.

My secondary research interests are refugee and asylum-seeking populations and child trauma.  While studying and working at the University of Oxford, UK, I volunteered with asylum-seeking individuals at an agency called Asylum Welcome as well as assisted with a cross-sectional epidemiological study of the mental health of Afghan unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in the UK.  Then, as part of my MSW at the University of Utah, I completed a practicum at the University Neighborhood Partners’ Hartland Partnership Center, predominantly working with individuals and families of refugee background. I completed a second practicum at Primary Children’s Center for Safe and Healthy Families, where I have also been employed part-time as a Certified Social Worker (CSW) for the last year and half.  I work with children, ages 3-18, who have experienced trauma or child maltreatment and am trained and supervised in trauma-informed models, including Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), and Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention (CFTSI).  Due to our team’s commitment to evidence-informed practice, I am engaged in agency outcome monitoring and evaluation. In the next couple of years, I plan to collaborate on grant-funded child trauma research with colleagues, many of whom are faculty in the University of Utah’s School of Medicine, Division of Child Protection and Family Health.   

Languages

  • English, fluent.
  • Romanian, fluent.
  • French, basic.

Geographical Regions of Interest

  • Africa
  • Eastern Europe
  • Northern America
  • Southern Asia
  • Western Asia