Home > The effectiveness of social work with adults. A systematic scoping review.

Moriarty, Jo and Manthorpe, Jill (2016) The effectiveness of social work with adults. A systematic scoping review. London: King’s College London.

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This report is based on a scoping review into the effectiveness of social work with adults undertaken to help inform the work of the Chief Social Worker for Adults. The Chief Social Worker for Adults is responsible for leading the reform of adult social work at government level in England. It is based on systematic searches of a number of electronic bibliographic databases, websites, and reference harvesting the bibliographies of key published studies in order to identify material that had not come up in the searches.

‘Effectiveness’ refers to how well a particular intervention, approach, or policy performs under ‘real world’ conditions. However, it is accepted that definitions of effectiveness depend upon what is being measured and who is doing the measuring. The review took a broad approaching to defining effectiveness, including cost effectiveness, impact on service users and carers (for example, changes to quality of life), and user and carer views.

• Overall, the review concluded that, although the evidence base for social work with adults is mixed and uneven, the results are broadly positive.
• Social workers’ effectiveness seems to rest most on their ability to combine a number of roles, including assessment, local knowledge, and being able to provide counselling and/or ongoing support.
• The evidence base for studies about care management and health care social work appears to be largest.
• There is considerable satisfaction with palliative care social workers among service users and carers but there is evidence of unmet demand.
• We seem to know least about effectiveness of social work with adults with learning disabilities.
• We need to know more about the inter relationships between structural arrangements, workload, worker satisfaction and effectiveness.

Item Type
Publication Type
International, Report, Review
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
General / Comprehensive, Prevention, Harm reduction, Crime prevention, Rehabilitation/Recovery
March 2016
51 p.
King’s College London
Place of Publication

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