Social Workers' Implementation of Client Participation: What Factors Make the Difference?

Lea Zanbar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Client participation is both a value and a strategy in social work, involving clients in decisions influencing their lives. Nevertheless, the factors encouraging its use by social workers in social services have received little research attention. This article reports on a study drawing on Goal Commitment Theory to examine, for the first time, four categories of variables that might predict its implementation: background variables (intervention method, age, experience, education, supervision); personal resources (self-esteem, mastery); organizational variables (superiors' support, organizational commitment); and situational factors (previous client participation, perception of client participation). A sample of 661 Israeli social workers completed questionnaires. Hierarchical regression analysis and t-tests revealed that intervention method, mastery, superiors' support, and both situational variables contributed significantly to explaining the variance in client participation. Moreover, social workers valued client participation significantly more than they used it. The implications for researchers and professionals in social services are discussed. Proper training could increase social workers' awareness of client participation and provide tools for implementation. Policy makers should set standards for its use and evaluation, and require its inclusion in all interventions. Further research investigating clients and managers of social services could provide a broader picture of the factors impacting client participation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-107
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Social Service Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Client participation
  • Goal Commitment Theory
  • organizational factors
  • personal factors
  • social workers


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