The characteristics of oncology social work in Australia: Implications for workforce planning in integrated cancer care

Rosalie Pockett, Michelle Peate, Kim Hobbs, Monika Dzidowska, Melanie L Bell, Brandi Baylock, Irwin Epstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Aims: To describe the demographics, professional characteristics, self-reported professional development needs and research involvement of oncology social workers in Australia and to describe perceived barriers to provision of quality psychosocial care. Methods: A cross-sectional online survey was administered to social workers working in the oncology field who were contacted through three professional organizations; the Australian Association of Social Workers, Oncology Social Work Australia and the Psycho-oncology Co-operative Research Group, the University of Sydney. A snowball recruitment method was adopted to maximize the sample size. Results: Two thirds of respondents had over 10 years professional practice experience but with lesser experience in oncology settings. Twenty-eight percent had post-graduate qualifications. Professional development needs were reported as moderate or high by 68% of respondents. No association between professional needs and work setting was found. Years of experience in oncology practice and living in an urban area increased the likelihood of involvement in research. Barriers to psychosocial care included poor understandings of the social work role, time constraints and an inadequate number of social work positions. Conclusion: In this first Australian study of the social work oncology workforce, the results demonstrated active, well-qualified and experienced social workers providing frontline services to people with cancer and their caregivers in geographically diverse locations across Australia. Inadequate resources and a lack of integrated psychosocial care were identified as barriers to comprehensive cancer care. The need for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social workers was identified as an urgent workforce priority.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAsia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Delivery of health care
  • Integrated
  • Social work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The characteristics of oncology social work in Australia: Implications for workforce planning in integrated cancer care'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this