Journal Article

Tackling Inequalities in Physical Health: A New Objective for Social Work

EILEEN MCLEOD and PAUL BYWATERS

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 29, issue 4, pages 547-565
Published in print August 1999 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online August 1999 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/29.4.547
Tackling Inequalities in Physical Health: A New Objective for Social Work

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SUMMARY

We argue that tackling the impact of social inequality on physical health should become a central objective of social work and intrinsic to the development of anti-oppressive practice. This is on three grounds. First, the suffering embodied in inequality in physical health should be a cause of concern to social workers, as a pervasive social problem. Secondly, awareness of social work's complicity in contributing to such a problem, through its historical role in implementing state policies, needs to inform assessment of social work outcomes. Nevertheless, thirdly, social work—not confined to health care settings—which redresses social disadvantage and tackles its consequences for physical well-being can contribute to greater equity in health. Indicative examples of such practice are provided in relation to health maintenance, living with ill health and terminal illness. Finally, consideration is given to the current wider political context in which social work addressing health inequalities is embedded and to the need for complementary organizational, professional and political initiatives to buttress its development.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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