Date of Conferral



Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work


Debora S. Rice


The social work practice problem of this doctoral action research project was the unmet mental health needs of veterans 65 and older in Puerto Rico. This action research project explored the experiences and challenges of social workers when they offer mental health services to veterans 65 and older. This study was framed using social support theory, integrating the 3 core elements of tangible support, emotional support, and informational support. The data collection technique included a semistructured interview protocol used in a focus group setting. Purposive sampling was used to identify 9 participants who were licensed social workers in Puerto Rico. Through content analysis, the findings were coded and organized into the following themes: educational background; ethics and wellbeing aspects; evaluation, interventions, and treatments; professional social and cultural competencies; social support experiences; multidisciplinary service coordination processes; and the elderly veterans' unmet needs. The results of this study could be used by social workers and administrators to contribute to positive social change through the improvement of social work practices and the development of innovative knowledge when intervening with veterans 65 and older and their families in Puerto Rico.

Included in

Social Work Commons