The social worker in the emergency room
Garces Carranza, Cesar Manuel
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This study examined the perceptions that doctors and nurses hold of the role of the social worker in the emergency room and compares them with social workers' self perceptions of what they actually do. The hypotheses of the study were: (1) Perceptions of social workers' roles in the medical emergency room will vary significantly by profession: Social Work, Medicine, and Nursing. (2) There will be no significant differences among doctors and nurses in their perceptions of social workers' roles in the emergency room by type of hospital (municipal and voluntary).;The sample consists of 117 emergency department social workers, doctors, and nurses employed in 20 New York City metropolitan hospitals. (38 social workers, 39 doctors, and 40 nurses). The research instrument used to measure perceptions of social work practice in hospital emergency rooms was an adaptation of an instrument developed by Carrigan (1974), who explored the perceptions of interdisciplinary social work practice in two general medical/surgical Veterans Administration hospitals. It was modified for the study in order to make it relevant to the on site experience of the respondents. The data were gathered using a questionnaire distributed to social workers, doctors, and nurses working in medical emergency rooms in two types of hospitals in New York City, municipal and voluntary (not-for profit). For profit hospitals were excluded from this study, because of the researcher's specific interest in municipal and voluntary hospitals. The data collected from the survey were analyzed using a statistical package for social services (SPSS, 1999). Pearson's Chi-Square was used to compute the differences between observed and expected observations (responses) of the role of the social worker in the emergency room among social workers, doctors, and nurses. The hypotheses were tested in the Null form; the .05 or lower level of significance was used.;The overall findings demonstrate that social workers perceive their role in the emergency room as providers of clinical and concrete services. On the other hand, doctors and nurses perceive the role of the social worker as providers of concrete services. The literature reviewed since 1967 to 2000 shows that there have been no change in the way social workers are perceived by physicians, nurses, patients, and administrators in hospital settings. This study is different from Carrigan's (1974) in that it examined the perceptions of the role of the social worker in the emergency room by doctors and nurses and compared them with social workers' self perceptions of what they do.