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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of Delaware
  • Matthew L Mauriello
  • (518) 421-6046
Award Date:08/31/2021
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 37,000
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 37,000
  • FY 2021=$37,000
Start Date:10/01/2021
End Date:09/30/2022
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.083
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Collaborative Research: FW-HTF-P: Supporting future crisis line work through the inclusive design of worker-facing tools that empower self-management of wellbeing and performance
Federal Award ID Number:2128866
DUNS ID:059007500
Parent DUNS ID:059007500
Program:FW-HTF Futr Wrk Hum-Tech Frntr
Program Officer:
  • Linda Molnar
  • (703) 292-8316

Awardee Location

Street:210 Hullihen Hall
Awardee Cong. District:00

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Delaware
Street:210 Hullihen Hall
Cong. District:00

Abstract at Time of Award

This planning grant’s long-term aim is to create assessment and informatics tools that empower Crisis Line Workers (CLWs) to self-monitor, develop skills, and better manage both their personal wellbeing and counseling performance. Counseling hotlines are a critical part of the informal healthcare system, providing immediate mental health support through telephone or text messaging. Such services have proven effective at decreasing hopelessness, psychological pain, and suicidality. Research finds 18–24 year olds and students disproportionately experience these psychological issues, contributing to a recognized escalation in mental health problems on college campuses nationwide. At the same time, the nature of the work puts CLWs themselves at high risk of burnout, secondary traumatic stress, and compassion fatigue. In turn, such distress negatively impacts CLWs' job performance, creating a cycle of distress and vulnerability for both CLWs and the clients who depend on them. Our scope is campus and campus-adjacent crisis line organizations (CLOs) and CLWs who manage the underserved mental health needs of college populations. Insights from this project could improve worker welfare, job performance, and client welfare for broader contexts involving high-stress, high-stakes work that employs information communication technology to serve clients in need of support. This agenda tightly aligns with FW-HTF objectives given recent shifts in future crisis line work, workers, and technology. Specifically, while CLOs traditionally managed physical call centers with training programs for workers, many new services allow CLWs to train online, field communications from home, and more flexibly self-define schedules. Further, our initial interactions with CLO partners indicate campus counseling centers are moving away from on-call staffing to outsourcing crisis line support to vendors that provide around-the-clock services and interaction reports that counselors follow up on as needed. In addition, while originally limited to telephone calls, crisis services are increasingly being delivered through modern information communication technologies, including text messaging and web applications. Finally, “smarter” features are increasingly being utilized within such platforms to automate responses or help triage communication. Together, these changes are impacting the practices of crisis line work as well as the skills expected of workers due to emerging technologies augmenting or replacing various aspects of CLWs’ efforts. At a high level, our work will inform focus areas as well as the types of monitoring technologies and interventions most likely to be accepted by CLOs and CLWs toward improving their wellbeing and welfare. This project brings together several disciplines, including human-centered design, computer science and human-computer interaction, communication sciences and social behavior, and mental health assessment and intervention. The investigator team is structured to achieve multiple convergent goals. First, by cultivating relationships with CLOs and undertaking needfinding engagements, we will deepen understanding of CLWs’ work circumstances, experiences, risks, and needs. Second, this discovery phase will produce design implications for self-monitoring and self-care tools for CLWs. Third, iterative co-design with CLWs will identify and initiate formative development of effective solutions (e.g., informatics, interventions) responsive to these requirements and clarify the potential impacts such tools can have on CLW personal wellbeing and professional practices and, in turn, client welfare. Overall, this project will solidify the team, partnerships, and foundational knowledge needed to pursue research at the level of a FW-HTF-R proposal. This project has been funded by the Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier cross-directorate program to promote deeper basic understanding of the interdependent human-technology partnership in work contexts by advancing design of intelligent work technologies that operate in harmony with human workers. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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