The effects of a participatory training intervention on direct care staff's self-esteem and locus of control at a state residential mental retardation facility

Joseph Edward Kinnan


Direct care staff in mental retardation services are often considered the neglected priority. Although they are touted as valuable assets on the healthcare team, they usually receive low pay, have very limited decision authority, and often feel powerless. This study examined the effects of a specially tailored training intervention designed to positively influence the self-esteem and locus of control of a randomly selected and assigned sample of 18 direct care staff at a state residential mental retardation facility. The intervention (treatment) consisted of eight 2-hour training sessions with emphasis on participatory techniques, including problem-posing dialogue. An alternate treatment and posttest was administered to an attention control group of another 18 direct care staff. The experimental group was administered the same posttest, using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale and the Adult Nowicki-Strickland Internal-External Control Scale. In addition to these instruments, a self-evaluation (graphic scale) was administered to the experimental and control groups at the beginning of each training session. Anecdotal notes were kept by the trainer on both the experimental and control group subjects throughout the treatment. Finally, the posttest was administered to both groups, once again, one month after the conclusion of the training. Statistical procedures, using a split-plot design, were employed to analyze the experimental data. The results failed to show a significant relationship between the client-centered treatment (given to the experimental group) and the dependent variables: self-esteem and locus of control. Based on the findings, the author concluded that a perspective transformation had not yet been achieved by the experimental subjects, even though the end-of-course evaluations were very positive. The author suggests that future research emphasis be given to participatory training interventions in more concentrated settings, using techniques that were employed in this study.