Ethical dilemmas of New York City social workers
Ain, Eileen Joan
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The purpose of the research study was to explore how social workers make ethical decisions by examining the impact of their education in ethics, with whom and what they consult, and the decisions they make to resolve ethical dilemmas.;The key research question was how do social workers seek to resolve ethical dilemmas in their practice. Study questions and hypotheses specifically address the ethical decision making process. The independent variables are education in ethics, knowledge and use of the NASW Code of Ethics, ethics support systems, and demographic characteristics. The dependent variables are frequency and types of perceived ethical dilemmas, and the actions taken to resolve them.;The Ethics and Professional Standards Committee of the New York City Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers and the Committee on Clinical Investigation, Albert Einstein School of Medicine, Yeshiva University approved the study. The survey was made up of closed and open-ended questions. A cover letter that assured confidentiality and anonymity, and a return envelope accompanied the survey that was sent to a random sample of 1200 members of the NYC NASW with a nearly twenty five percent return rate (n = 287).;The focus of the conclusions is on social workers processes to resolve ethical dilemmas and the factors that influence decision-making. In all social work fields of practice, respondents first consult colleagues, turn to supervisors, trusted friends and significant others, and then to the NASW Code of Ethics to resolve ethical dilemmas. The main ethics themes upon which they deliberate are confidentiality, informed consent, self-determination, and dual relationships.;Value systems of the client, social worker and the profession are important in resolving ethical dilemmas. Academic ethics education and post-degree training need to be intensified, and include axiological and philosophical ethical constructs, in-depth study of the NASW Code of Ethics and individual case study. Technological supports, such as an interactive ethics website, increased communications through the NASW Ethics Helpline, and development of an alliance between law and social work need to be implemented.;Social workers are self-reliant and motivated to gain knowledge of ethics. Further research is needed in how ethical dilemmas are resolved, especially as the profession gains awareness of its potential as a change agent for clients and for the betterment of society. In conclusion, New York City social workers show dedication for working through dilemmas. In so doing they maintain tenets of professionalism within the moral contexts of society.