Doctoral student receives 2017 GADE Student Award for Social Work Research

Stephanie Grace Prost

Stephanie Grace Prost, doctoral candidate at the FSU College of Social Work recently received the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education in Social Work’s (GADE) 2017 Student Award for Social Work Research. This recognition is provided to a doctoral student or a group of doctoral students whose in-press or published scholarship advances scientific inquiry in social work or social welfare. The scholarly research should serve as a model for scientific rigor and show high potential to impact social work practice, policy, and research.

Prost was selected for this award based on her instrument validation study under the supervision of Dr. Neil Abell. The study, “Development and Validation of the Hospice Professionals’ Understanding of Preparatory Grief Scale” was published in Research on Social Work Practice in 2016. Prost worked along Dr. Abell over the course of two semesters to develop and validate a measure capable of assessing hospice professionals’ understanding of preparatory grief.

“Preparatory grief is understood as the loss-related reaction that individuals experience as they prepare for their own death,” Prost explained. “It is critical that hospice professionals and other healthcare service providers are capable of distinguishing between adaptive and maladaptive reactions to impending death to assure timely and targeted intervention.” Preparatory grief encompasses those loss-related, adaptive reactions to impending death. These reactions are fleeting responses with few negative consequences on an individual’s quality of life, such as brief periods of sadness or withdrawal from previously enjoyed friends, family, or activities.  Maladaptive reactions, in contrast, reflect sustained, negative consequences on individual’s’ quality of life.

She noted that previous scholars’ findings have illustrated that maladaptive reactions may manifest as prolonged depression or suicide behaviors if unmanaged. The measure includes a list of both adaptive and maladaptive reactions and asks hospice professionals including social workers, registered nurses, and physicians, to identify how true or false such reactions are for most patients. Prost went on to complete the validation study with the support of the Florida Hospice and Palliative Care Association and the Louisiana-Mississippi and Palliative Care Organization.

The directors of these two organizations disseminated the measure through state-wide email Listservs. Nearly 300 participants completed the measure and the analyses revealed good content and factorial validity, as well as good internal consistency. Prost hopes that that the measure will be used as a supplement to continuing education curriculum for hospice professionals and other healthcare service providers as a tool to foster discussion related to preparatory grief and other psychosocial correlates of terminal illness.

The GADE Student Award for Social Work Research will provide Prost with a certificate and a $1,500 award at the Doctoral Student Award Breakfast held at the annual GADE Reception at the 2017 Society for Social Work and Research in New Orleans, Louisiana.

“I believe that this award is a concrete illustration that doctoral student research is meaningful and has the capability to affect social work clients and communities,” Prost said upon accepting the award. “Receiving this award is significant to my research goals as this particular piece is one part of a larger agenda—one aimed at enhancing quality of life for offenders and forensic service providers in criminal justice settings. I am also elated to have received this award, knowing that it was made possible by the unwavering support of faculty, community organizations, and service providers.”

Her research has focused on the intersection of social work, healthcare, and criminal justice. This study has been critical to informing her dissertation research, which examines the strengths of peer-caregiving in acute, skilled-nursing, and end-of-life settings within the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections. Prost also hopes that the findings of her dissertation will shape future investigations to develop, implement, and evaluate interventions to enhance effective correctional healthcare service provision.

The Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education in Social Work (GADE) was established over 25 years ago to provide a forum for sharing ideas and strategies among doctoral programs in social work, and for strengthening efforts at enhancing doctoral education. The membership, comprised of directors of established social work and social welfare doctoral programs located in accredited universities, has established three student awards in hopes of advancing social work scholarship, teaching, and service1 – three principal areas in which full-time professors are typically engaged as faculty members. These awards reflect a commitment to bring visibility to our greatest resource, our students, who provide us with professional purpose and continuously offer us new ways to think and grow. For more information, visit:

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 - 09:49 PM
Last updated: Wed, 05/23/2018 - 10:45 AM