Empowering Social Work Students to Promote Sleep Health among Underserved Populations

2018 Focused Projects Grant Recipients – Educational

Christine Spadola, PhD & Danielle Groton, PhD

Florida Atlantic University

Insufficient sleep is highly prevalent, particularly among underserved groups. Social workers often work with underserved populations who are at risk for sleep deprivation, and are well positioned to promote healthy sleep behaviors. However, sleep health training is rarely integrated into social work curriculums. To address this gap, we developed and tested a 2-hour online sleep health educational intervention, designed to improve sleep related knowledge among social work students.

This training involved 25 collaborators across seven universities. Based on formative research conducted with the target population, the training included 5 ‘modules’: introduction to sleep health, sleep hygiene, fatigue and fatigue countermeasures, sleep disorders, and sleep health among special populations.  We recruited 106 social work students to participate in the sleep education module. Pre-post module changes in knowledge and beliefs were assessed using the Sleep Beliefs Scale (SBS) and the Sleep Practices and Attitudes Questionnaire (SPAQ). We also assessed changes in self-reported sleep quality using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PQSI). Wilcoxon Signed-Rank tests were used to assess pre- to post-training scores. We conducted qualitative research (open-ended questions and focus groups) to assess acceptability and to inform future module refinement.

Of the 106 students, mean age was 28.3±8.8 yrs, 92.5% were female, 4.7% male, and 2.8% other. The sample was racially/ethnically diverse with 37.7% identifying as non-Hispanic White, 34.0% African American/Black, 22.6% Hispanic/Latino, 0.9% Asian, and 4.7% other. Ninety (84.9%) participants completed the questionnaires.  Students participating in the module reported improvements in the Sleep Beliefs Scale (Median=2.0, range: -4, 10 [positive change=increased knowledge]), the SPAQ (Median=-10, range: -37, 95 [negative change=increased importance of sleep]), and the Global PQSI Score (Median=-1, range: -7, 4 [negative change = improved sleep quality]).

Participation in an online educational module was associated with not only improvements in sleep knowledge but also self-reported sleep among social work students, suggesting feasible ways to expand providers promoting sleep health.

Journal Articles

The International Journal

Variability, visuals, and interaction: online learning recommendations from social work students


Investigating Social Workers’ Sleep Health Knowledge: Opportunities to Promote Sleep Health Among Underserved Populations

Preliminary Impact of a Sleep Health Educational Module for Social Work Students

Society for Social Work and Research

Reducing Racial and Economic Health Disparities through Healthy Sleep Promotion: Preferences for a Sleep Health Training Module Among Social Work Students

Social Work in Public Health

Sleep Health Education to Promote Public Health: Attitudes and Desired Learning Goals among Social Work Students