Development and Validation of a Measure to Identify the Predictors of Recovery-Oriented Practice among Social Workers in Public Mental Health and Addiction Agencies

Date of Completion

January 2011


Sociology, Theory and Methods|Health Sciences, Mental Health|Social Work




The purpose of this study was to develop and validate an instrument to measure the predictors of recovery-oriented practice among social workers in public mental health and addiction agencies. Because there was no existing measure of recovery-oriented practice at the practitioner level, a second instrument was developed to assess the self-reported performance of this practice behavior. The study utilized a mixed method research design that proceeded in two distinct phases. The sampling frame for both phases of the study included social workers employed in the various Connecticut State-operated mental health and addiction agencies (n=188). The first phase involved two focus groups (n=8) and a review of the literature to generate items for both instruments. In the second phase, both instruments were used in mailed survey of social workers employed in the participating agencies (n=147). Ajzen and Fishbein's (1980) theory of planned behavior provided the theoretical framework for the three predictor variables, attitude, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control. The conceptual framework for the outcome variable, recovery-oriented practice, was derived from the six dimensions of recovery-oriented practice endorsed by the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (Tondura, et al. 2008).^ The results of the reliability testing showed that the items of both scales had good to excellent internal reliability. A principle components analysis of the 9 items pertaining to the three predictors loaded onto three components and accounted for 75% of the variance in social workers' intent to engage in recovery oriented practice. The principle components analysis of the 18 items pertaining to the outcome variable loaded onto four components and accounted for 59% of the variance in recovery-oriented practice. The validated scales were used to test several hypotheses related to their utility in predicting the self-performance of recovery-oriented practice. Utilizing a hierarchical multiple regression procedure, the three predictor variables (attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control) explained 75% of the variance in the self-reported performance of recovery-oriented practice. Following a review of the major findings, the implications for social work practice and the delivery of mental health and addiction services are discussed. ^