Evidencing the effectiveness of health social work assessment and interventions (Sostyö-TerVa)

01.09.2021 - 31.08.2023

Research group

Our study seeks to address the research question as to how effective social work interventions are in providing integrated service paths, linking hospital services with social care and achieving measurable patient well-being. An audit survey of health social work practice will be undertaken at Kuopio University Hospital (KUH). This data will be analyzed together with the dataset from preliminary research undertaken at Helsinki and Tampere Hospitals in 2019. Based on these results and guided by Practice Research methodologies, a quasi- experimental study will be implemented at each of the 3 hospital sites (Helsinki Children's Hospital (HUS), Tampere University Hospital (TAUH) and Kuopio University Hospital (KUH)). The study will investigate the efficacy of social work assessment, intervention, and linkage informing an evidence-based model of linkage between health and social care. This service path will integrate health and social services in relation to complex children’s issues (Helsinki), psychiatric mental health (Tampere) and hospital cancer care (Kuopio). Participants will be assessed at discharge, 6 weeks and 6 months follow-up. If supported, our research will provide solid evidence, underpinning a model for health social work practice which may be scaled up for use in hospital services in urban and regional centers in Finland. This study will provide further evidence as effective integration of hospital services and social care. It involves an extension of preliminary research undertaken with the Heikki Waris Institute (HWI, Helsinki) in 2019 in collaboration with Professor Lynette Joubert (The University of Melbourne). This study audited the day-to-day practice of health social workers in Helsinki and Tampere and provided important evidence for the role of health social work in implementing the service path between the hospital and the municipal services and Kela benefits.