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Policy Website Evaluation: Implications for HUS Service Workers

Abstract

Technological advancement has led to the increased availability of information on nearly all topics. Today, every teenager has a smartphone with which they can access the internet to learn about life and society. Human service (HUS) workers are in the first line of community service since they are responsible for facilitating human health and social welfare. Although online sources provide valuable information to HUS professionals, there has been an exponential growth in the number of websites providing unverified and misleading information. Substance abuse and alcoholism have been a menace globally, with the U.S. being among the most affected nations, and several policies have been established to mitigate these challenges. Many websites provide information on substance abuse, but not all can be trusted. The CRAAP Test, which assesses currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose, is used in this paper to evaluate websites in drug abuse and addiction to determine their relevance to HUS service workers.

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Introduction

Technological advancement has led to the increased availability of information on nearly all topics. Today, every teenager has a smartphone with which they can access the internet to learn about life and society. Human service (HUS) workers are in the first line of community service since they are responsible for facilitating human health and social welfare. Although online sources provide valuable information to HUS professionals, there has been an exponential growth in the number of websites providing unverified and misleading information. According to the National Organization for Human Services (NOHS) website, a HUS worker is supposed to have a good understanding of the nature of human systems (Stinchcomb, 2022). This competency requires access to accurate and reliable online information, adding to the relevance of website analysis to HUS workers.

The responsibilities of a HUS worker are tied to their level of knowledge, skills, and expertise. For community collaboration, the Social Service Work Organization records on its website that HUS workers have to understand the conditions that impact optimal human functioning (“Human Services Management Competencies, “2022). On the same note, the American Public Health Services Association’s (APHSA) website notes the need for consistency in HUS workers’ implementation of policies that align with themselves, their clients, and society (“Guidance & Toolkits | APHSA,” 2022). To meet the above competencies, websites need to be evaluated using tools such as the CRAAP model to verify their suitability.

Drugs and addiction are significant challenges in society to which HUS workers are expected to respond. This area is relevant to HUS workers because it affects individuals, families, and the entire society’s wellbeing. Since HUS workers are concerned with the overall well-being of humanity, there is a need to evaluate available policies on drugs and addiction. This paper looks into four websites detailing drug abuse policies and evaluating them using the CRAAP tool to verify their relevance to HUS workers.

The Policy area and its Relevance to HUS

Substance abuse and alcoholism have been a menace globally, with the U.S. being among the most affected nations. Nelson et al. (2017) report that over 43,000 Americans died from drug-related issues in 2014, more than any other recorded year, while alcohol misuse kills about 88,000 individuals in the U.S. each year. Substance abuse is related to a myriad of social issues such as unwanted pregnancies, mental disorders, truancy, and intentional and unintentional injuries (Segal, 2016). All these problems directly affect HUS workers, necessitating evidence-based solutions. Several policies and interventions have been established to limit the prevalence of substance abuse and alcoholism among youth and adults.

Taxation and Pricing Policies

Alcohol and drug use are closely linked to the users’ purchasing power. In addition, the abuse of one substance is likely to contribute to the intake of similar substances. In many nations, governments have implemented regulatory policies to limit the affordability of illicit drugs. One such practice is taxation, which significantly increases the price of alcohol and other drugs. Evidence suggests that higher alcoholic drink prices are connected with lower consumption of alcohol and alcohol-related disorders, such as drunk driving (Segal, 2016). This implies that affordability facilitates alcoholism. Therefore increasing alcohol taxes and pricing can be an effective way of curbing the high alcohol consumption rates. Drunk driving is a crucial point here because it highlights the dangerous repercussions of having many people affording alcohol and taking it at any time. The alcohol taxation policy has been effectively applied in the U.S., resulting in a considerable decline in alcoholism.

Outside of the United States, the usefulness of raising alcohol taxes as a technique for reducing alcohol and drug abuse and related problems has been recognized. According to a 2009 World Health Organization (WHO) report, when other elements such as earnings and the cost of other products and services are fixed, a rise in alcohol prices translates to less alcohol intake (Nelson et al., 2017). Policies that increase alcohol taxes restrict the time when teenagers begin to drink, delay their advancement toward bigger volumes of drinking, and decrease their drinking frequency and the quantity of alcohol taken on each occasion. Furthermore, research has shown that raising taxes is not only cost-effective but can also give rise to overall cost savings (Nelson et al., 2017). Since addition results from continuous substance use, tax policies limit the number of individuals who develop addictions.

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Establishing the Minimum Legal Drinking Age

Addiction is closely linked to the number of years for which a person takes drugs and alcohol. If teenagers start drinking before the age of 17, they are most likely to get addicted early according to (“NIDA.NIH.GOV | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)”, 2022). The minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) is the minimum age at which an individual is allowed to take alcohol. According to Nelson et al. (2017), the U.S. established the MLDA at 21 years, which came to effect in 1988 in all the states. This policy is aimed at limiting the number of underage persons engaging in alcohol and drug use.

Driving under the influence (DUI) has been a major cause of accidents in many nations. DUI cases are mostly associated with young drivers under the influence of alcohol and other substances. The MLDA policy aims to minimize the likelihood of young drivers taking alcohol, thereby reducing drug-related accidents and injuries (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2022). This law has been implemented and enforced by preventing young drivers with the legally set blood alcohol content (BAC) from driving. According to Nelson et al. (2017), those found with a 0.08% BAC case risk a DUI case which includes license revocation. This regulation is effective in minimizing the quantity and duration of alcohol use.

Policies to Prevent Prescription Drug Misuse

Prescription drug usage and related harmful policies have only just begun to attract research attention. However, some research has begun to look into the impact of opioids (PDMPs) on prescription drug usage (Nelson et al., 2017). These state-initiated initiatives are aimed at reducing the rate of improper opioid pain reliever prescribing through a variety of means. If every state in America had an effective PDMP, there would be reduced overdose deaths each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released the CDC Manual for giving patients Opioids for Pain Management. According to Nelson et al. (2017), the guidelines include research-based suggestions for prescribing medications for pain in persons aged 18 and beyond in healthcare settings. When to introduce opioids for treating chronic pain, choosing the proper opioids and dosages, including how to evaluate the risks and resolve opioid-related harms are all covered in the guideline. This guideline can assist doctors in reducing opioid usage and associated consequences among chronic pain patients.

CRAAP Test and Ranking

The CRAAP check evaluates the factual reliability of digital resources from a variety of academic areas. The abbreviation CRAAP stands for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose (Duby, 2018). Since there are so many sources available on the internet, it can be hard to ascertain which ones are reliable enough to use as research tools. The CRAAP test is designed to help educators and students assess whether or not their materials can be trusted (Nelson et al., 2017). A researcher can decrease the chances of using inaccurate information by using the test in evaluating sources.

The term “currency” refers to the most recent information found. Students and instructors inquire as to where the material was published then check to see if it has been modified or updated, and if the research project can use several sources from different McGuire platforms (Duby, 2018). For example, a source published more than five years ago is outdated and not suitable for academic research. When reviewing sources, one should consider how relevant the information is to a well-rounded research project. In this area, one question to consider is how the topic of study relates to the information provided in a source (Segal, 2016). More importantly, the reference authors should concentrate on the primary audience. For example, a website dealing with addiction should target teenagers and adults. This is because these are the groups most likely to fall into drug-related addictions.

A website’s authority is crucial because before students and educators can believe the knowledge, they will look to determine who the writer, publisher, or supplier is. The publisher or author’s contact information should also be included (Duby, 2018). For example, websites dealing with drug abuse should be written by health agencies or social workgroups. The authority of the source assures students and instructors that the material may be properly used and trusted. The accuracy test indicates that the information offered to the audience must be supported by proof (“Guidance & Toolkits | APHSA”, 2022). Examples of a website’s purpose include informing, teaching, selling, entertaining, research, and self-gain. The scoring ranges from 0-3 with 3 showing excellence and 0 being the lowest score.

CRAAP Website analysis and Ranking

There are many informational websites, some of which contain unverified and misleading details. Therefore, it is essential to analyze websites and rank them in order of applicability to the area of study. This section contains a thorough analysis of each website’s currency, relevance, authority, and accuracy, with an associated CRAAP score.

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The National Institute of Drug Abuse

Currency: Looking at the website’s footer, the website is current as it has been updated in 2022. Score: 3

Relevance: The website seems to focus on the general public by giving a wide range of information that can assist healthcare professionals as well as HUS workers. For example, it displays recent articles on preventing addiction. Score: 3

Authority: The information published in this article comes from a compilation of scientific research done by the NIDA which is affiliated with the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Department of Health. Score: 3

Accuracy: The information presented on the website is written by scientific researchers working for NIDA and NIH. The references and affiliations are indicated in every article. Score:3

Purpose: The website is intended to teach. For example, it teaches the public about identifying addiction cases and handling them. Score: 3

Overall score: 15 out of 15

Conclusion: This website is relevant and vital to HUS workers and the public globally.

DrugAbuse.com

Currency: The website is current as the last modification date is indicated as 2022. Score: 3

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Relevance: The information published in this article targets patients and the general public. For example, it has a FAQs section on drug abuse. Score: 2

Authority: It is owned by Recovery Brands LLC, which is affiliated with the American Addiction Centers, Inc. Score: 2

Accuracy: All the articles published on the website are referenced. Score: 3

Purpose: The website’s main purpose is education. For example, it lists common drugs and addiction trends. Score: 3

Overall Score: 13 out of 15

Conclusion: It may be used by HUS professionals but lacks authority since it is privately owned.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

Currency: The footer indicates that the Website was last updated in September 2020. Score: 2

Relevance: The information seems to focus on healthcare professionals and human service workers since it majors on prevention standards and policies. Score: 3

Authority: The information is published by UNODC which is an international organization. Score: 3

Accuracy: All articles are correctly referenced. Score: 3

Purpose: Its main purpose is to give direction. For example, it directs individuals on where to seek help and provides the relevant contacts. Score: 3

Overall score: 14 out of 15

Conclusion: This website applies to HUS workers.

The office of the Surgeon General

Currency: The information is current, last updated in 2022. Score: 3

Relevance: It targets the general public and all healthcare and social workers. Score 3

Authority: The Office of the Surgeon General belongs to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, which is a recognized national authority in the U.S. Score: 3

Accuracy: The information presented is well-researched and cited accordingly. Score: 3

Purpose: The website’s main purpose is to educate American citizens on health and wellbeing. For instance, it gives updates on new health challenges and mitigation strategies. Score: 3

Overall score: 15

Conclusion: This website is highly relevant and applicable to HUS workers.

Discussion of the website ranking and Conclusion

NIDA is one of the most essential websites for HUS workers. It has an excellent CRAAP score since it is relevant to HUS by focusing on current drug abuse challenges. DrugAbuse.com is an essential website that is highly relevant to HUS workers because it majors on drug abuse by indicating the causes and prevention strategies, although it falls short regarding authority since it is owned by a private body. The UNODC website is crucial to HUS workers because they need to understand how they can address drug abuse and addiction cases following the global standards. It has an excellent score although it falls short in terms of timeliness. The office of the Surgeon General’s website is highly relevant to HUS workers since it combines scientific research from various sources to enable them to solve society’s problems, which are connected to substance abuse and addiction.

Conclusion

In conclusion, drug abuse and addiction are vital policy areas to HUS service workers. Human service (HUS) workers are in the first line of community service since they are responsible for ensuring that human welfare is assured. Although online sources provide valuable information to HUS professionals, there has been an exponential growth in the number of websites providing unverified and misleading information. Policies such as taxation, MLDA, and opioid prescription rules have effectively mitigated substance abuse and addiction. The CRAAP test is designed to help educators and students assess whether or not their materials can be trusted.

References

Drug Abuse Policy, Laws, Classification and Prevention. DrugAbuse.com. (2022). Web.

Duby, H. R. (2018). What a Load of CRAAP: Evaluating Information in an Era of” Fake News”. Tennessee Libraries, 68(4). Web.

Guidance & Toolkits | APHSA. Aphsa.org. (2022). Web.

Human Services Management Competencies. Global Social Service Workforce Alliance. (2022). Web.

Nelson, J., Bundoc-Baronia, R., Comiskey, G., & McGovern, T. F. (2017). Facing addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s report on alcohol, drugs, and health: A commentary. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 35(4), 445-454. Web.

NIDA.NIH.GOV | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2022). Web.

Office of the Surgeon General (OSG). HHS.gov. (2022). Web.

Segal, E. (2016). Social welfare policy and social programs (4th ed.). Cengage.

Stinchcomb, J. (2022). What is Human Services?. Nationalhumanservices.org. Web.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. United Nations : Office on Drugs and Crime. (2022). Web.

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