Updated Handbook of Health Social Work reflects changes in health care

Medical and public health social work listed as a top career

Increased complexity in health care demands a greater body of knowledge for health social workers. The newly released Handbook of Health Social Work, Second Edition is a key resource for social workers, offering a comprehensive and evidence-based overview of social work practice in health care.

“Social workers in health care are active problem solvers who must draw from knowledge at the social, psychological and biological levels to work constructively with other members of the health-care team,” says Sarah Gehlert, PhD, co-editor and the E. Desmond Lee Professor of Racial and Ethnic Diversity at the Brown School and the School of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis.

U.S. News & World Report listed medical and public health social work in their “Best Careers: 2011” article.

“The Handbook covers practice and research areas ranging from chronic disorders to infectious disease, physical and mental disorders, and all areas in between,” Gehlert says.

“We hope that the Handbook’s chapters are a set of tools to help health social workers better address the needs of the individuals, families, groups, communities and societies with whom they work.”

Gehlert and co-editor Teri Browne, PhD, assistant professor of social work at the University of South Carolina, brought together a diverse team of notable experts and researchers to discuss such issues as:

  • new trends in social work and health care, including genetics, transdisciplinary care, as well as national and state changes in policy;
  • children and health social work;
  • the wide array of roles performed by social workers in health care settings;
  • ethical issues and decision making in a variety of arenas; and
  • understanding community factors in health social work.

The new edition, published this month by John Wiley & Sons, is thoroughly revised and updated from the first edition released in 2006.

“A good deal has changed on both the national and international fronts since the first edition was published,” Gehlert says.

“The mapping of the human genome continues to change how we view and approach the treatment of disease. Our ability to treat some disorders has increased markedly. In the time between editions, an increasing number of persons lost their health coverage. Health care reform holds the potential to ensure that U.S. citizens have coverage, but it is not clear how reform will impact the nation’s steadily increasing health disparities.”

One chapter, “Health Policy and Social Work,” is almost completely revised from the first edition and takes a look at the potential effects of health care reform.

The chapter’s authors, Julie Darnell, PhD, assistant professor of health policy & administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Edward F. Lawlor, PhD, dean and the William E. Gordon Distinguished University Professor at the Brown School, present basic information on the interplay between clinical, administrative and policy issues in health care.

Gehlert and Browne hope the book will continue to be a vital part of continuing professional education for health social workers. The first edition of the Handbook is one of the best-selling titles in Wiley’s social work publishing program and is popular outside of the U.S., with translations in a number of languages.

The Handbook also is used as a textbook in top social work programs across the U.S.

In her foreword, Suzanne Heurtin-Roberts, program director with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, calls the Handbook of Health Social Work, Second Edition, “a crucial addition for seasoned practitioners’ libraries, as well as an essential foundation for fledgling social workers ready to enter health as a practice and research area.”

For more information about the book, visit http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-047064365X.html.