The ecology of social work departments: empirical findings and strategy implications

Soc Work Health Care. 1985-1986 Winter;11(2):1-16. doi: 10.1300/j010v11n02_01.


Despite the fact that social work departments are dependent upon hospitals for resources and support, little research has been conducted to analyze organizational factors that promote or impede their development. The researchers hypothesized that departments are most likely to expand in hospital settings with missions that are supportive of clinical, preventive, and community-oriented services; that stress innovation; and that emphasize hospital-funded services and programs. Further, it was hypothesized that social work services would be most likely to expand in settings where hospital administrators perceive them to be relevant to practical needs of the institution. Findings from a survey of 50 non-profit hospitals in Los Angeles County in 1980 confirm these hypotheses and suggest that social workers need to use knowledge of the organizational context to develop high-level support for their departments.

MeSH terms

  • California
  • Community Health Services / organization & administration
  • Decision Making, Organizational
  • Diagnosis-Related Groups
  • Hospital Departments / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Social Work / organization & administration
  • Social Work Department, Hospital / organization & administration*