Health in All Social Work Programs: Findings From a US National Analysis

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Abstract

Objectives

To establish a baseline of health content in 4 domains of US social work education-baccalaureate, master's, doctoral, and continuing education programs-and to introduce the Social Work Health Impact Model, illustrating social work's multifaceted health services, from clinical to wide-lens population health approaches.

Methods

We analyzed US social work programs' Web site content to determine amount and types of health content in mission statements, courses, and specializations. Coding criterion determined if content was (1) health or health-related (HHR) and (2) had wide-lens health (WLH) emphasis. A second iteration categorized HHR and WLH courses into health topics.

Results

We reviewed 4831 courses. We found broad HHR content in baccalaureate, master's, and continuing education curricula; doctoral programs had limited health content. We identified minimal WLH content across all domains. Topical analysis indicated that more than 50% of courses concentrated on 3 areas: mental and behavioral health, abuse and violence, and substance use and addictions.

Conclusions

As a core health profession, social work must strengthen its health and wide-lens content to better prepare graduates for integrated practice and collaboration in the changing health environment.

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