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"More than a liver" - the role of the social work practitioner in hepatitis C treatment centres

Hepatitis C is a fast growing infectious disease in Australia and is often associated with related psycho-social and mental health problems. The conventional treatment process for hepatitis C is challenging due to a number of reasons. This study explored social workersÂ’ perceptions of the contribution of their role in hepatitis C treatment centres in relation to the treatment experience of patients. The roles that social workers fulfill, their contribution to the multidisciplinary team and towards a culturally competent service, were explored. Furthermore the knowledge, skills and values required for providing a competent service in a hepatitis C treatment setting was explored. The broad theoretical frameworks that inform social work practice were considered, especially the biopsycho-social model, the strengths perspective, the critically reflexive approach and communications theory. This qualitative study used a semi-structured interview method for data collection. Ten social workers in hepatitis C treatment clinics participated in the study. The findings highlight the needs of patients and how social worker participants described helping to address and meet these needs by employing their knowledge, skills and values through their social work roles and interventions in a team context in a multicultural and multi-faceted work environment. A major challenge that social workers described was to keep patients on treatment despite debilitating side effects that diminish patients' motivation to complete treatment. A shortcoming in the service was described to be the limited psychiatric support available at many treatment centres. The findings lead to a number of recommendations to improve social work services in hepatitis C treatment settings. More research was recommended in areas such as motivational techniques, psychiatric support, and effective group work strategies. The need for increased funding for social work positions in the hepatitis C field was also highlighted. It is anticipated that findings of this study can be applied to hepatitis C treatment in broader settings such as prisons, drug and alcohol settings and general practice. This research will contribute to literature in the field of hepatitis C treatment models and in the field of social work practice in hepatitis C contexts.
Date January 2008
CreatorsMouton, Marlize, National Centre in HIV Social Research, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, UNSW
PublisherPublisher:University of New South Wales. National Centre in HIV Social Research
Source SetsAustraliasian Digital Theses Program
Detected LanguageEnglish

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