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Effectiveness of social work with adults

Final Report

Moriarty & Manthorpe 2016 Effectiveness of social work with adultsJo Moriarty, Senior Research Fellow & Deputy Director, SCWRU: 'We were very pleased to have an opportunity to contribute to the work of the Chief Social Worker for Adults by drawing together this selection of research about social work effectiveness. We think some people will be surprised at the amount of empirical research there is and hope there will be opportunities to take forward this work by looking at specific areas in more detail. It can be hard for social workers and other social care staff to get access to research findings so this is one way of sharing details about the research that has been done.'—1 March 2016.

About this study

The Department of Health’s Chief Social Worker for Adults, Lyn Romeo, has made it one of her priorities to raise the profile of social work with adults and to increase recognition of the different roles that social workers can undertake in this area. The Department of Health commissioned SCWRU to conduct an evidence review on the effectiveness of social work with adults to help inform her work.


2014 – 2016

Research team

Jo Moriarty and Jill Manthorpe (SCWRU)


Department of Health, Policy Research Programme


A scoping review of the literature from England and relevant material from the other UK countries and internationally was undertaken.


The review highlighted the varied nature of social work with adults and the methodological range of research on its effectiveness.  While some topics, such as health care social work have been comparatively well researched, others, such as work with people with learning disabilities appears to be less well developed.


The report was published on 1 March 2016, alongside a blog and presentations made at conferences for both practitioners and social work researchers. A submission to a peer reviewed social work journal is under way.


The report was published on World Social Work Day and included a preface written by the Chief Social Worker for Adults. A blog and several presentations were prepared for practitioners, including an event on older people led by the Chief Social Worker for Adults.

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