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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/3939

Title: Addressing Patients' Psychosocial Needs in the Healthcare System: Perspectives from Healthcare Social Workers
Authors: Huang, Iris
Keywords: Public Health;Patient Needs;Social Workers
Issue Date: 3-Dec-2012
Abstract: Background: The current healthcare system is based on a medical model that focuses on treatment of biological abnormalities and is largely disconnected from the social determinants of health. According to the biopsychosocial model and growing evidence, unmet psychosocial needs limit the effectiveness of medical care and may hinder efforts to contain costs and improve outcomes. Historically, healthcare social workers have been responsible for addressing patients’ psychosocial needs. Objectives: To examine current and changing roles of healthcare social workers, impact of these roles on patient care and outcomes and major health policies and systemic challenges impacting healthcare social work. Methods: A semi-structured, open-ended interview instrument was developed using literature review information. In-person interviews were conducted with social workers from different practice settings and health systems in Philadelphia. Responses were transcribed and manually coded to identify common responses and themes. Results: Social workers form an interdisciplinary approach to patient care by providing therapeutic counseling, patient advocacy, resource connection, discharge planning and case management. Social workers directly impact the individual patient experience of care and indirectly enhance patient outcomes. Social work roles have adapted to changes in reimbursement policies overtime and are likely to become even more important as Medicare implements more outcomes-based reimbursement policies. Conclusion: By addressing patients’ unmet psychosocial needs, social workers can enhance the effectiveness of medical care and efforts to contain costs and improve outcomes. Enhanced social work staffs and increased research and education are needed to strengthen the healthcare system’s capacity and motivation to address patients’ psychosocial needs.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/3939
Appears in Collections:Health Sciences Theses and Dissertations

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