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date: 05 December 2020

Public Health Social Worklocked

  • Betty J. Ruth, Betty J. RuthDirector, MSW/MPH Program, Boston University School of Social Work
  • Sarah SiscoSarah SiscoNew York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
  •  and Jamie Wyatt MarshallJamie Wyatt MarshallGroup for Public Health Social Work Initiatives


Public health social work is a subdiscipline within social work that uses multifaceted transdisciplinary approaches to promote health equity and mitigate human health problems. Originating in the early 20th century, public health social work applies social work and public health theories, frameworks, research, and collaborative practice to address contemporary health issues. Epidemiologically informed and characterized by prevention, health promotion, and other integrative practices, public health social work is highly relevant to pervasive 21st-century challenges, such as health inequity, behavioral health integration, chronic disease, health reform implementation, and global health. With its strong focus on health impact and population health, public health social work is central to the profession’s viability and success in the post–Affordable Care Act (ACA) health environment.

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