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Article

Sandra K. Danziger and Karen M. Staller

Societies greatly vary in how social ills or conditions are framed and addressed. What is socially problematic and why specific societal responses are developed depends on competing social values in social, political, and historic context. Social constructionists examine how some social behaviors and conditions come to be publicly viewed as social problems and how these views shape policy and practice. Recent studies document two contemporary trends—the medicalizing and criminalizing of behavior for labeling problems and subjecting them to institutions of social control. Analyses of the social problems process (Best, 2013; Staller, 2009) allow social workers to consider how power, politics, fears, prejudices, and values “create” what is problematic about a variety of social conditions.

Article

The medical encounter is one of the most important channels of communication between the patient and his or her caretaker. Apart from its therapeutic effect, the medical encounter serves to convey information about a symptom or disease; construct a diagnosis and give information about the expected course of a disease (“prognosis”); and discuss treatment plans, including risks and benefits. The centrality of the medical encounter makes ethical considerations fundamental, not only within the clinical context but also within the broader context of health promotion. Furthermore, since the medical encounter is characterized by asymmetry and dependence, it can create problems of abuse of power or subordination. The current dominant liberal bioethical approach tends not to take into account the power relations within the medical encounter, or the social context in which the medical encounter takes place. It is in this sense that a republican egalitarian approach to bioethics can be of use. Instead of traditional bioethics emphasis on the individual and on personal autonomy, a radical egalitarian health rights approach will stress the importance of social structures, and the need for a different institutional framework that works toward making a universal right to health possible. Such an approach also emphasizes the centrality of politics in building adequate institutions and in modifying those social structures that cause inequities in health. These considerations have important consequences on how the medical encounter should be constructed, such as in the case of conveying risk and disclosing medical errors.

Article

Alice Lieberman

Ann Weick was the dean of the School of Social Welfare, University of Kansas (1987–2006) and a principal developer of the underlying rationale for the strengths perspective in social work practice.

Article

QingYing Ji and Anao Zhang

This article offers an overview of medical social work development in Shanghai, China. The Chinese definition of medical social work is introduced, and its development in Shanghai is described. Both from a history and policy perspective, this article outlines the three stages of medical social work development in Shanghai chronologically while introducing relevant national policies for medical social work at each stage. Lessons learned from the past are summarized and reviewed. Finally, future directions for further development are discussed.

Article

Marquis Berrey

Methodists were a self-identified medical sect of the 1st century bce, Imperial period, and late antiquity who shared a common method of observation and causal inference about the practice of medicine. Methodists took their name from the “method” (Gk. methodos), an observable path or evidence-based medicine which the physician undertook to gain secure therapeutic knowledge. The path was supposed to reveal the general similarity between patients’ ostensibly differing conditions. Three similarities, or “commonalities,” as they were called, were possible: fluid, constricted, or a mixture of the two. Opponents pilloried Methodists for the loose logic of their methodological revolution and socially disruptive claims to teach medicine within six months. Primarily a Roman phenomenon, the popularity of Methodism seems to have been due to a ready supply of practitioners and its focus on certain, fast therapy. Methodists wrote chiefly on internal medicine, surgery, and medical history.Methodists (Gk. methodikoi, Lat. methodici.

Article

Marquis Berrey

Empiricists were a self-identified medical sect of the Hellenistic and Imperial periods who shared a common experiential methodology about the purpose and practice of medicine. Denigrating unobservable causes and experimental medicine, they espoused a sceptical, passive approach to accumulated observations about the body and the natural world. Since few Empiricist texts survive, historical knowledge depends largely on the medical doxographies of later ancient physicians who were not Empiricists. Doxographies report that Empiricists practiced a controlled experiential medicine based on personal observation, written reports from previous physicians, and analogical reasoning from known to unfamiliar conditions. The importance of chance and memory to their medical practice along with a willingness to compare themselves to tradesmen of lesser status distinguished their philosophical medicine from other ancient medical sects.Empiricists (Gk. empirikoi, Lat. empirici) were a self-identified sect or school (hairesis) of physicians from the Hellenistic and Imperial periods who shared a common experiential methodology about the purpose and practice of medicine. Empiricists practiced a controlled experiential medicine for individual therapeutic success based on personal observation, written reports from previous physicians, and analogical reasoning from known to unfamiliar conditions. Twenty-one named Empiricists are known to have practiced. The prosopographic record of the sect begins from Philinus of Cos, a renegade student of .

Article

Wan-I Lin

Rong-li Liao (1936–2010) was a psychiatric social worker and educator. He was a professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Work at the National Taiwan University from 1970 to 1996 and helped to organize the Medical Social Work Association of R. O. C. (Taiwan).

Article

Can inclusion and special education achieve education for all? The answer: It depends. What has been called “special education” began its rounds in schools as early as the late 19th century. Inclusive education first appeared in policy documents and mission statements nearly a century later, most notably and possibly most influentially in UNESCO documents and goals of Education For All, beginning in 2002. Both vary extensively in terms of approaches to instruction, service location, vocational background and training for teachers and support personnel, and in terms of who gets included and who gets excluded, to name a few variables. The views of both also often vary by roles; for example, parents, teachers, administrators, government officials. Both also evince major differences depending on the cultural contexts, economic resources, and historical traditions and views regarding education writ large. Exploring these variations and conditions provides insights for addressing the difficulties that face collaboration or merger of special education and inclusive education in order to achieve education for all. After these difficulties have been acknowledged, an essential starting point for change in the direction of education for all entails finding common ground between special education and inclusive education in terms of purposes and end-goals. A human rights approach to common ground, purposes, and end goals provides an essential framework.

Article

Jean K. Quam

Mary Antoinette Cannon (1884–1962) was a social worker and educator who helped develop medical social work. She created courses in psychiatry and medicine in schools of social work and helped establish the Social Services Employees Union.

Article

Wayne A. Beach, Kyle Gutzmer, and Chelsea Chapman

Beginning with phone calls to an emergency psychiatric hospital and suicide prevention center, the roots of Conversation Analysis (CA) are embedded in systematic analyses of routine problems occurring between ordinary persons facing troubling health challenges, care providers, and the institutions they represent. After more than 50 years of research, CA is now a vibrant and robust mode of scientific investigation that includes close examination of a wide array of medical encounters between patients and their providers. Considerable efforts have been made to overview CA and medicine as a rapidly expanding mode of inquiry and field of research. Across a span of 18 years, we sample from 10 of these efforts to synthesize important priorities and findings emanating from CA investigations of diverse interactional practices and health care institutions. Key topics and issues are raised that provide a unique opportunity to identify and track the development and maturity of CA approaches to medical encounters. Attention is also given to promising new modes of research, and to the potential and challenges of improving medical practices by translating basic and rigorous empirical findings into innovative interventions for medical education. A case is made that increasing reliance on CA research can positively impact training and policies shaping the delivery of humane and quality medical care.

Article

Jean K. Quam

Ida Maud Cannon (1877–1960) was director of the Social Service Department at Massachusetts General Hospital, where she defined and developed medical social work. She moved medical social work into the community and provided social workers with specialized medical knowledge.

Article

Rocio Garcia-Retamero, Dafina Petrova, Adam Feltz, and Edward T. Cokely

Graphical displays generally facilitate the communication of complex information and are ubiquitous in media. Unfortunately, people differ in their ability to extract data and meaning from graphical representations of quantitative information (i.e., graph literacy). This means that for some people, even well-designed, simple graphs will cause confusion and misunderstanding. Research on the psychology of graph comprehension focuses on two instruments that efficiently assess fundamental graph literacy among diverse adults. The Objective Graph literacy scale is a well-established instrument with good psychometric properties that measures skill via cognitive performance testing (e.g., interpreting and evaluating various graphs). The recently developed Subjective Graph Literacy scale is a brief self-report of graph literacy that can outperform the objective test in notable ways, while reducing text anxiety. Emerging applications in clinical research and practice, including computerized decision aids, can personalize content as a function of one’s graph literacy.

Article

Jared Sparks

Personalized health care (PHC) is a broad term that describes how we leverage our growing understanding of the human body and developing technology to provide more effective health care. PHC requires that health care providers consider prevention and treatment in the context of available advanced technologies, best practices, and known variables that define us as individuals. These variables or characteristics may run the gamut from genetic, to biologic, to environmental, to even personality, personal values, and choice. By considering how these characteristics interact with specific illnesses and available interventions, outcomes can be improved. The purpose of this article is to: describe PHC’s current conceptualization including relationship with personalized medicine and patient-centered models of care, discuss its development and application by specific stakeholders, and review pertinent economic, legislative, and ethical issues.

Article

Romel W. Mackelprang

Characteristics that we contemporarily define as disabilities have existed in the human population from earliest recorded history. Societal explanations for disability have varied greatly by time and populations in which disabilities have occurred. At various times in history, disability has been viewed as a blessing from deity or the deities, a punishment for sin, or a medical problem. Social workers have worked with persons with disabilities from the inception of the profession, and in recent years, social work has begun to embrace the concept of disability as diversity and to treat disability as diversity and welcome disabled persons as fully participating members of society. Social work has begun welcoming persons with disabilities as fully participating members of society, including valuable members of the profession.

Article

Namkee G. Choi

Adult day care centers provide important health, social, and support services for functionally and cognitively impaired adults and their caregivers. The adult day care services are underutilized, however, because of the shortage of centers, caregivers' lack of awareness of and resistance to using services, and the mismatch between the needs of potential consumers and their informal caregivers and the services provided by the centers. To foster and support the expansion of adult day care centers, lessons learned from national demonstration programs need to be disseminated, and social workers need to be trained to provide essential services at the centers.

Article

Beatrice N. Saunders

Harriett M. Bartlett (1897–1987) was a social worker and theoretician who served as president of the American Association of Medical Social Workers from 1942 to 1944. She highlighted social functioning as a central focus of social work practice.

Article

Paul H. Ephross

William D. Bechill (1928–2007) was a social worker who raised public and governmental consciousness about the needs of older Americans. He was responsible for the original design of the Medi–Cal legislation in California, which anticipated much of the Federal Medicare.

Article

David A. Hyman and Charles Silver

Medical malpractice is the best studied aspect of the civil justice system. But the subject is complicated, and there are heated disputes about basic facts. For example, are premium spikes driven by factors that are internal (i.e., number of claims, payout per claim, and damage costs) or external to the system? How large (or small) is the impact of a damages cap? Do caps have a bigger impact on the number of cases that are brought or the payment in the cases that remain? Do blockbuster verdicts cause defendants to settle cases for more than they are worth? Do caps attract physicians? Do caps reduce healthcare spending—and by how much? How much does it cost to resolve the high percentage of cases in which no damages are recovered? What is the comparative impact of a cap on noneconomic damages versus a cap on total damages? Other disputes involve normative questions. Is there too much med mal litigation or not enough? Are damage caps fair? Is the real problem bad doctors or predatory lawyers—or some combination of both? This article summarizes the empirical research on the performance of the med mal system, and highlights some areas for future research.

Article

Edith Olmsted

Robert Morris (1910–2005), professor of social planning at Brandeis University, became director of the Levinson Policy Institute in 1970. He wrote on social planning, gerontology, and medical care, and was editor of Journal of Social Work from 1960 to 1972.

Article

Critical studies of humanitarian discourses involve the study of the arguments, claims, and evidence that are used to justify intervention or non-intervention in key local, regional, national, or international contexts. These discourses can take the form of arguing over whether we should practice isolationism and not intervene in the sovereign affairs of other countries, or they can take the form of deliberations over the transcend needs of populations that cope with myriad disasters. In some cases these discourses are produced by foreigners who believe that the less fortunate need to be rescued from their misery, while at other times humanitarian discourses can be used in discussions about the human rights of the disempowered. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), nation-states, celebrities, medical communications, and militaries are just a few of the rhetors that produce all of these humanitarian discourses.