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Social workers’ assessments of children’s health when arguing for children’s needs
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Disability Research. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Stockholm University, Sweden .
Östergötlands Läns Landsting, Center of Paediatrics and Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Department of Paediatrics in Linköping. Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Division of Clinical Sciences. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
2015 (English)In: Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, ISSN 0738-0151, E-ISSN 1573-2797, Vol. 32, no 4, 301-308 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In Sweden, child-related social services constitute an institutional body that conducts both preventive and supportive work for children in need of health support. However, in the social services Act (2001:453) there are few concrete statements about how social workers should assess children’s health. In this study we therefore explore how social workers in Sweden adapt to the task of assessing children’s health. Specifically, we investigate the ways in which children’s health is explained in the context of reaching conclusions about the concrete needs of children. Inspired by a social constructionist and discursive analytical approach we analysed 60 written investigations where health concerns were expressed at the point of initiating an investigation. The findings are that social workers limited their assessments of children’s health, using only a few words when mentioning health aspects. There was a difference in how they described physical- and psychological health problems. When they did pay attention to children’s psychological health this was mostly carried out with the use of one single explanation for the cause of the health condition; parental misbehaviour. Besides, this explanation fitted the suggested support. Signs of children’s psychological problems were described by their own destructive behaviour. Physical health was only briefly mentioned and the recommendations for child support involved external assistance. This means that social workers could use a simplified explanatory model lacking descriptions of each child’s life situation. This way of limiting assessment may hinder a deeper understanding of causes and consequences and thereby impose limits on specifying the particular support the child needs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer US , 2015. Vol. 32, no 4, 301-308 p.
Keyword [en]
Social services written assessment; children’s ill-health; limited information; simplified explanatory model
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-102182DOI: 10.1007/s10560-014-0371-3OAI: diva2:668964
Available from: 2013-12-02 Created: 2013-12-02 Last updated: 2016-04-24Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Barnperspektiv i barnavårdsutredningar: med barns hälsa och barns upplevelser i fokus
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Barnperspektiv i barnavårdsutredningar: med barns hälsa och barns upplevelser i fokus
2013 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Child perspective in child welfare investigations : children’s health and children’s experiences in focus
Abstract [sv]

Avhandlingens övergripande syfte var att fördjupa kunskapen om hur socialtjänsten synliggör barns fysiska och psykiska hälsa samt barns egna upplevelser i barnavårdsutredningar. Resultaten diskuteras utifrån rättsliga förutsättningar samt teorier om barn som subjekt och sociala aktörer. De fyra delstudierna visar att det finns begränsningar i hur hälsan samt barns upplevelser beskrivs om man vill förstå deras behov av stöd. En anledning till detta kan vara att den rättsliga regleringen inte per automatik ger barn status som subjekt och aktörer. Resultaten tyder på att barnperspektivet i både den rättsliga regleringen och genomförandet av barnavårdsutredningar har stärkts jämfört med vad som visats i tidigare forskning men det behövs en utvecklad analys och argumentation kring barns upplevelser och barns hälsa. En sådan förståelse ger förutsättningar för att barn blir synliggjorda utifrån sina unika förutsättningar vilket säkerställer att socialtjänsten tar hänsyn till deras unika behov.

Abstract [en]

The overall aim of this thesis is to explore how the physical- and psychological health of children – as well as children’s own experiences – are represented in child welfare investigations. The results are discussed with reference to both legal regulations and theories, which identify children as subjects and social actors in their own right. The four studies show that there are limitations in how children’s health generally, along with their experiences more specifically, are described. The consequence is a diminishing of the chances to understand the child’s need for support. One reason for this might be that legal regulations for social welfare investigations do not automatically ascribe to children the status of subjects and social actors. Compared with previous research, results gathered in this thesis indicate that the child’s perspective has been strengthened in both law and in social welfare investigations. All the same, there is still a need for more developed analyses of children’s health as well as children’s experiences. Such an understanding requires that children be seen from their unique positions, ensuring moreover that social services take into account the specific needs of individual children.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2013. 64 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 600Studies from the Swedish Institute for Disability Research, ISSN 1650-1128 ; 56
Child welfare investigations, documentation, children’s physicaland psychological health; children’s experiences, Barnavårdsutredningar, dokumentation, barns fysiska och psykiska hälsa, barns upplevelser
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences Social Sciences
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-102187 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-102187 (DOI)978-91-7519-457-8 (print) (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-12-20, I:101, Hus I, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 10:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2013-12-02 Created: 2013-12-02 Last updated: 2013-12-05Bibliographically approved

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Hultman, ElinFälth-Magnusson, Karin
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Disability ResearchFaculty of Arts and SciencesDepartment of Paediatrics in LinköpingDivision of Clinical SciencesFaculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
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Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal
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