Rutgers School of Social Work Distinguished Research Professor Stephen Crystal was named one of the most influential contemporary social work faculty in an analysis published in the Journal of Social Service Research. According to The 100 Most Influential Contemporary Social Work Faculty as Assessed by the H-Index, Crystal was listed as one of the top 25 faculty members. Also on the list was David Mechanic, who taught courses in social work and sociology at Rutgers University.
“This really represents recognition of the work of the wonderful teams of collaborators that I have been privileged to be part of over the years,” says Crystal. “This is work that takes a village, and I have had the opportunity to be a member of many wonderful villages encompassing faculty and our wonderful research staff team at Rutgers as well as terrific colleagues and stakeholder partners around the country. Our objective in this work is to provide evidence that has real impact in helping improve mental health and substance abuse treatment for people who are disadvantaged or suffering, and it is a blessing to be able to work with so many partners nationally and internationally towards this goal.”
Dr. Crystal’s work, which has resulted in more than 300 publications with more than 12,500 citations, includes many widely cited books and research articles on old-age policy and services for the elderly, the use and outcomes of psychotropic medications and other mental health treatments, HIV/AIDS care, severe mental illness, the opioid epidemic, and numerous other health care and social policy topics. His work on gerontological policy and inequality has been particularly influential nationally. The cumulative advantage model of aging – which he originally proposed in the 1980s and has developed in a line of subsequent work – has contributed to understanding of late-life inequalities and the way in which initial advantages such as educational attainment, social structures, health, and economic events over the life course, and public policies interact to shape late-life outcomes.
He has also been an important contributor to research on long-term care and mental health among the elderly. The work of Dr. Crystal and his team with state Medicaid, child welfare, and mental health agencies has been instrumental in recent years in helping states to improve the management of psychotropic medications and psychosocial interventions for children in foster care and other Medicaid children, with substantial reductions in off label antipsychotic use, increased use of psychosocial interventions, and substantial improvements in safe use practices such as monitoring for the metabolic effects of antipsychotics in children and avoiding risky drug combinations. This work led to the development of national quality measures in this area as well as state implementation of integrated care models for adults with severe mental illness and children with severe emotional disturbance that address primary medical care and substance abuse treatment needs along with traditional mental health services.
The study’s authors Bruce A. Thyer, Thomas E. Smith, Philip Osteen, and Tyler Carter compiled a list of 2,204 social work faculty from the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education in Social Work’s 76 member social work programs, and the top 100 list was determined by obtaining the faculty’s H-indices, which measures the impact of an individual’s publications.
Thyer, Smith, Osteen, and Carter explain, “It is appropriate to publicly recognize these individuals for their immense contributions to academic discourse and to the intellectual life of the profession.”