Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


A Linguistic Analysis of the Content, Context, and Demographic Variables Related to Clinician Professional Misconduct Public Deposited

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  • The professions of counseling, marriage and family therapy, and social work are highly controlled with regulators frequently issuing findings of professional misconduct against clinicians. Although much research has been conducted with regard to clinician professional misconduct in general, there is a scarcity of research investigating the relationship between gender and types of professional misconduct, and no research to date has been conducted to investigate the content of final findings of professional misconduct as determined by state regulators. What remains unknown, therefore, is to what degree specific clinician gender correlates with sanctions for acts of professional misconduct and the linguistic content and context of these sanctions. This research consists of two studies investigating the content and context of professional misconduct findings against licensed counselors, marriage and family therapists, and social workers. The first study is titled “The Relationship of Clinician Demographic Variables to Discipline Board Misconduct Content.” The second study is titled “Clinician Discipline Board Misconduct Decisions: A Study of Linguistic Differences.” These studies were designed around a retrospective cross-sectional analysis of a linguistic corpus created from a randomized convenience sample of final determinations of disciplinary actions across eight states. This linguistic corpus was created from the findings of fact of 509 final determinations of misconduct against clinicians. For the first study, word counts from the contents of the findings of misconduct for the following linguistic categories: (a) family words, (b) substance words, (c) finance words, (d) sex words, (e) friend words, and (f) recordkeeping words were compared to the criterion variables consisting of (a) gender, (b) years of experience, (c) geographical region, and (d) type of license. Frequency rates and rankings of the variables were calculated and the relationships between variables were evaluated through a multiple linear regression analysis. For the second study, raw word counts and a normalized frequency were reported for each linguistic category of professional misconduct and a GraphColl of the collocates of the most frequent word in each category was produced. The results of the first study demonstrate a wide variation of prevalence rates across the control variables and suggest some significant relationships between these demographic variables and the linguistic categories. Three meaningful findings emerged from the second study. The first finding is the sexual or intimate nature of the term “relationship.” The second finding was the nuclear family context of the term “mother” in relation to the family word list. The third finding was the relatively high frequency of the term “alcohol” among the substance terms. The findings from both studies provide empirical data regarding the linguistic content and context of professional misconduct and identify relationships between clinicians’ professional misconduct and their personal and professional demographics. This data is necessary to better understand types and contexts of professional misconduct to effectively and efficiently educate, develop, and supervise clinicians.
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