September 2022

Meet David Wilkerson

David Wilkerson, Ph.D., MSW, is an Associate Professor at the Indiana University School of Social Work (Indianapolis) and an Affiliate Research Scientist with the Regenstrief Institute. He also serves as the Director of IU School of Social Work's graduate program, MSW Direct and the Director of the IU School of Social Work Office of e-Social Work Education and Practice. 

Are you familiar with the 90-9-1 rule? It states 90% of social media participants never contribute content, 9% contribute intermittently, and only 1% contribute consistently. This means that participation inequality can lead people to make mistakes about services they use. The rule also operates in social media sites that provide support for people experiencing depression, anxiety, substance misuse, and other psychosocial challenges.

Professor Wilkerson's work involves overcoming the 90-9-1 rule in caregiver interventions that use online peer support delivered through social media. Participation inequality limits the range and diversity of content contributions, discourages participation, persistence, and efforts needed for overcoming a problem. He has participated in an interdisciplinary research team in dementia caregiver research and in research with caregivers of challenging youth. He has published and presented his work nationally/internationally. He has also consulted with an online caregiver support group in Ireland that was formed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, Professor Wilkerson and a colleague in Ireland are editing a forthcoming publication titled Social Work in an Online World, which will present readers with a framework for online social work and 9 practice models that demonstrate this framework.

In his free time, Professor Wilkerson enjoys listening to all types of music and playing his guitar.

I greatly enjoy my work here an Indiana University at Indianapolis and look forward to continuing my contributions in translating research into practice.

Professor Wilkerson
Image Courtesy of Professor David Wilkerson

Q and A with Professor Wilkerson

I delivered parent management training (PMT) programs to school systems and was surprised at participation rates which were much lower than rates in Canada where I was trained in the delivery of a large scale PMT model.  Later, I began approaching this issue with online delivery methods to address logistical problems for participation, like time and travel.

I focus on the uses of technology to advance social work practice and education. In the area of practice, I’m interested in ways to improve the delivery of online support as an aspect of psychoeducation. Related work is the delivery of online mental health services through rural public libraries and infusing digital practice into the social work curriculum.

My work with an interdisciplinary team here at Indiana University with online support for dementia caregivers was published a few years ago. One journal article led to a research replication study proposal in Ireland and the beginning of new, collegial relationships with researchers in Ireland.  When the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up in Ireland, it locked down many of the traditional social services that caregivers depended on.  I consulted with my Irish colleagues and helped with their development of an online Family Carer Support Group that currently has over 2,000 participants.

I enjoy working in an interdisciplinary team to solve problems and create innovative digital practices.

I am currently providing a research assistantship for a doctoral student, and we are working on a project that will research a new course on the topic of digital equity and data justice, as well as a new project that will enable online mental health visits for patrons of rural libraries.

The rural library, digital social work project above includes librarians and other community members.  It was initiated in the summer of 2022 and will expand to 6 rural counties over the next year.  We will also interview rural faith-based leaders on the issue of digital mental health delivery.

The digital hybrid psychoeducation program is proposed for delivery in the 2022/2023 academic year as a part of the rural digital social work project that is already funded.


Conversation with Professor Wilkerson

On Friday, September 30, 2022 from 12 noon to 1:00 p.m. Professor Wilkerson gave a virtual presentation about his work on “Digital Hybrid Psychoeducation: Model Development and Case Demonstration.” Professor Wilkerson's research focuses on the uses of technology to advance social work practice and education. In the area of practice, he's interested in ways to improve the delivery of online support as an aspect of psychoeducation. He also works on the delivery of online mental health services through rural public libraries and looks for methods to best infuse digital practice into the social work curriculum.