Social Work’s Scope of Practice in Primary Mental Health Care: A Scoping Review

Research paper by Ashcroft R, Kourgiantakis T, Fearing G, et al.

Indexed on: 03 May '19Published on: 27 Jun '18Published in: British journal of social work


The inclusion of social workers as members of inter-professional primary health-care teams is an asset to health-care delivery by improving access to a broad range of psycho-social and mental health-care services and programmes. This scoping review examined the literature to summarise social work’s scope of practice in the provision of primary mental health care. Five electronic databases were searched within any given year to provide a comprehensive review of the literature. In the initial search, 4,800 articles were found and thirty met the inclusion criteria. One research team member reviewed the included articles independently with supervision from the principal investigator. Three categories emerged from the review: clinical responsibilities, social work activities in primary health-care and barriers to the implementation of social workers in such settings. An examination of social work’s scope of practice will help guide social work’s contribution to mental health care in inter-professional primary health care settings.