Hospital-based social workers’ perceptions of generalist- and specialist-level palliative social work activities

Firn, J. and Preston, N. and Walshe, C. (2021) Hospital-based social workers’ perceptions of generalist- and specialist-level palliative social work activities. Journal of Social Work, 21 (3). pp. 416-434. ISSN 1468-0173

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Summary: A social work advisory group recently proposed 41 generalist-level palliative social work activities applicable to any venue, including hospital-based social work, but this applicability has not been empirically tested. Therefore, we used critical realist grounded theory analysis of qualitative interviews to explore whether the activities proposed by the advisory group reflect inpatient social workers’ perceptions of their generalist-level palliative activities when caring for patients alongside specialist-level palliative social workers. Fourteen Masters educated social workers from six hospitals in the Midwest United States participated. Corresponding concepts from interview data of hospital-based social workers’ perceptions of what facilitates or hinders collaboration with specialist-level palliative social workers were identified and mapped onto the 41 generalist-level palliative social work activities. We used NVivo to organize and track data. Findings: Inpatient social workers find it challenging to engage in specific generalist-level palliative social work activities; provision of generalist-level palliative services is shaped by discharge planning duties, the consultation model, and the concentrated role of specialist-level palliative social workers. Competency in cultural and spiritual aspects of care could be lacking. Applications: Most of the 41 generalist-level palliative social work activities are present in hospital-based social workers’ clinical practice. However, not all activities may be applicable or realizable in the inpatient venue. In the hospital, an emphasis on discharge planning and related time-barriers can mean seriously ill patients and their families lack access to generalist-level palliative social work services. Clarification is needed about which of the 41 activities are relevant to and actionable within the inpatient venue.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Social Work
Additional Information:
The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Journal of Social Work, 21 (3), 2021, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2021 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Journal of Social Work page: on SAGE Journals Online:
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? case managementcompetencemedical social workpalliative caresocial worksocial work skillssocial sciences (miscellaneous)health(social science) ??
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Deposited On:
03 Apr 2020 14:55
Last Modified:
17 Feb 2024 00:58