ICT-supported social work interventions with youth: A critical review

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25 Citations (Scopus)


Summary: In youth social work, the trend of using various forms of information and communication technology (ICT) is increasing. However, evidence showing in what ways ICT has enhanced intervention effectiveness is loosely organized. This study conducted a systematic review of ICT-supported social work interventions with youth, targeting peer-reviewed articles in 64 social work journals published between 2000 and 2014. The included studies (N = 13) were analysed with particular reference to their level of evidence, internal validity and approach to evaluating the role of ICT.

Findings: All the included studies presented positive outcomes: 54% of them provided level-I evidence (RCTs), 15% provided level-II evidence (case–control trials without randomization) and 31% provided level-III evidence (case reports). All of them were of ‘good’ or ‘fair’ quality in terms of their internal validity. However, there were only three studies which could provide direct evidence indicating that interventions using ICT were more effective than interventions without using ICT. Most of the remainder provided indirect evidence suggesting that the use of ICT might be associated with positive intervention outcomes.

Applications: These studies provide useful insights that help advance social work knowledge. Yet there is room for improvement in the conceptualization of ICT, and in research designs for evaluating the role of ICT.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)468-488
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Social Work
Issue number4
Early online date31 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018

User-Defined Keywords

  • Social work
  • communication
  • evaluation
  • intervention
  • social work research
  • youth work


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