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A professional role in transition: Swedish child welfare social workers’ descriptions of their work in 2003 and 2014
University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Social Work and Psychology, Social work.
2017 (English)In: British Journal of Social Work, ISSN 0045-3102, E-ISSN 1468-263XArticle in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

This study is based on a follow-up in 2014 of a survey conducted in 2003 among Swedish child welfare social workers. The same questionnaire used in 2003 (n = 309) was distributed to social workers (n = 349) who, in 2014, were working with the same types of tasks as in the previously investigated areas. The overall aim was to examine and analyse how working conditions have developed over these eleven years. From the results, two general patterns emerge. The first shows a deterioration of their working conditions, with higher work demands, increased role conflicts and less possibility to influence important decisions. The intention to leave the workplace or the profession had also increased. The second overall pattern concerns the emerging changes in job content, where the work today seems to be focused on conducting investigations whereas the vast majority of the social workers in 2003 also mentioned other tasks, such as giving advice and support, as being part of their job content. Contrary to their wishes, the social workers of today seem to have less time to devote to direct contact with clients. The consequences of these changes for the professional role of social workers and for their clients are discussed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
Keyword [en]
Child welfare, organisation, professional practice, professional role social work workplace clients
National Category
Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-22942DOI: 10.1093/bjsw/bcx016OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-22942DiVA: diva2:1051508
Available from: 2016-12-02 Created: 2016-12-02 Last updated: 2017-08-18Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Arbetsvillkor i den sociala barnavården: förutsättningar för ett kvalificerat arbete
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Arbetsvillkor i den sociala barnavården: förutsättningar för ett kvalificerat arbete
2008 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis describes and analyzes the working conditions of child welfare social workers who responded to a comprehensive questionnaire (n=309, dropout rate 3 per cent).

In Study 1, the working conditions of social workers new to the profession (0-2 years) were compared with those of social workers with longer experience. The study shows that less experienced workers were more often found working in areas characterized by worse socioeconomic conditions and in workgroups where many others were also new and inexperienced. Although they described some aspects of their working conditions more positively they tended to report more health problems.

In Study 2, working conditions of the child welfare social workers were compared with those of other professional human service workers. The study shows that although social workers in general and child welfare social workers in particular made positive assessments of their working lives, social work was unusually demanding among human service professions on several measures of workload, complexity of tasks and quality of management.

In Study 3, the associations between the child welfare social workers’ working conditions and their health and well-being were investigated, controlling for background variables. The negative consequences of high job demands, especially for psychological health and well being emerge.

In Study 4, factors associated with the social workers’ intention to leave the job were investigated. The study showed that lack of human resource orientation within the organization was of greatest importance.

The results are analyzed from two different perspectives; the effort/reward model and new institutional theory. The main conclusions are that improvement is needed of the introduction to the profession at the workplace, that the status of child protective work needs to be raised and that social workers need help to limit their responsibility load, more time and space for reflection, and greater valuation of their work.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för socialt arbete - Socialhögskolan, 2008. 216 p.
Keyword
social workers, working conditions, job demands, health, intention to leave
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-24967 (URN)978-91-7155-681-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2008-06-05, Aula Svea, Socialhögskolan, Sveaplan, 10:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2008-05-15 Created: 2017-08-18 Last updated: 2017-08-18Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
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