In the Front Line: The Impact of Specialist Training for Hospital Physicians in Children at Risk on Their Collaboration With Social Workers

Haya Itzhaky, Lea Zanbar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Until recently, dealing with children at risk in Israeli hospitals was almost exclusively the domain of medical social workers. Suspected cases of abuse or neglect must be identified in real-time, during the child's short stay in the hospital, and the decision of whether or not to report the case, and to whom (law enforcement or welfare authorities), must be made. The recognition that effective treatment also demands the involvement of physicians led to the development of an intensive training program for hospital-pediatricians. The current study, based on in-depth interviews with the doctors who participated in the program and the social workers who work with them at 14 hospitals in Israel, examined the impact of the training on cooperation between the two groups, seeking to determine whether the doctors' increased familiarity with the social work profession enhanced team-work.Phenomenological analysis of the interviews revealed several themes, indicating greater collaboration between the doctors and social workers. However, the participants also noted increased friction between the two groups. Possible explanations and practical recommendations for enhancing the potential effectiveness of such collaborations are offered. The study has implications for designing similar training programs as well as for improving the dynamics between the two professions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)617-639
Number of pages23
JournalSocial Work in Health Care
Volume53
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2014

Keywords

  • child abuse and neglect
  • hospital social workers
  • pediatricians
  • professional collaboration

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