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Digitalization, stress, and social worker–client relationships during the COVID-19 pandemic
Malmö University, Faculty of Health and Society (HS), Department of Social Work (SA).ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3565-6563
Lund University, Lund, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0652-9357
2023 (English)In: Journal of Social Work, ISSN 1468-0173, E-ISSN 1741-296X, Vol. 23, no 6, p. 1080-1098Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Summary: The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the possibilities for people to interact and communicate. This article examines Swedish social workers’ experiences of the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the use of digital tools in their work, and whether this use has affected the social worker–client relationship and their stress levels. The article draws on a web survey (N  =  541) via a quantitative analysis of responses and a qualitative analysis of answers to an open-ended question.

Findings: Most respondents agreed on experiencing increased use of digital tools in the relationship with the clients, increased skills in using digital tools, and a more positive view of digital tools in the social worker–client relationship. However, experiences on whether stress levels had increased and the relationship with the clients worsened, were divided. Age correlates positively with increased stress levels, and social workers working with social assistance, as well as women, are more likely to agree on that the relationship with the clients has worsened. Responses from open-ended questions highlight a rapid shift where social workers have gained a more positive view of digital tools, that video meetings can increase efficiency and flexibility, but also work environment problems.

Applications: This article contributes with useful insights into how the use of digital tools during the COVID-19 pandemic has changed and affected stress and the social worker–client relationship. It can support discussions on the future implementation of digital tools in social work after the pandemic.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2023. Vol. 23, no 6, p. 1080-1098
National Category
Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-61788DOI: 10.1177/14680173231180309ISI: 001009027300001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85162632427OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mau-61788DiVA, id: diva2:1785937
Available from: 2023-08-07 Created: 2023-08-07 Last updated: 2023-12-11Bibliographically approved

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Nordesjö, Kettil

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