Primary prevention involves coordinated efforts to prevent predictable problems, to protect existing states of health and healthy functioning, and to promote desired goals for individuals and groups, while taking into consideration the physical and sociocultural environments that may encourage or discourage these efforts. This entry discusses the history of this basic approach to professional helping from medical, public-health, and social-science perspectives. It also reviews major theories that guide preventive thinking and action. One section sketches the substantial empirical base for evidence-based practice and how such information can be retrieved. This entry concludes with a review of practice methods for increasing individual strengths and social supports while decreasing individual limitations and social stresses, which together characterize most contemporary preventive services.
Rosalyn M. Bertram
This entry presents frameworks for implementing effective services. When service organizations understand and work through implementation frameworks, programs can achieve targeted fidelity and client outcomes in a sustainable manner while enhancing practitioner competence and confidence, and improving organizational culture and climate. These frameworks should be but are not yet infused throughout social work curricula. They provide a practical and conceptual bridge for supporting effective delivery of evidence-based or empirically informed practices.
Betty J. Ruth, Sarah Sisco, and Jamie Wyatt Marshall
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.
Enola Proctor and J. Curtis McMillen
Assessing and improving the quality of social services is one of the most pressing concerns for social work practice and research. Practice in nearly every setting is affected by stakeholder expectations that agencies monitor and improve quality. This entry addresses the meaning of the phrase “quality of care” with respect to social work services, considers this topic in relation to quality improvement, quality assurance, and evaluation of services, and points to the research that is needed in order to assess and improve quality.
David W. Springer and Kathleen A. Casey
Rehabilitation is a complex, multidimensional approach within health care that uses an interdisciplinary model of specialized services. The comprehensive treatment team generally includes medical specialists and therapists who specialize in physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, cognitive therapy, psychology, and recreational therapy. Social workers play a key role in the treatment team, particularly in care coordination, discharge planning, and community reintegration. Trends in comprehensive medical rehabilitation will continue to be significantly influenced by forces within the larger health-care arena. Technological advancements and the social trend toward health and fitness offer great promise for the improvement and expansion of rehabilitation services.
Marjorie R. Sable and Patricia J. Kelly
Reproductive health includes family planning, prenatal care, and the broader scope of primary care. Because a woman's health status at conception is as important as prenatal care, genetic screening and 20th century medical technology, reproductive health includes “the preconceptual and interconceptual periods and the menopause, and finally, not only reproductive tract problems but the wide range of risk factors that influence a woman's health in general.” Quantitative indicators of reproductive outcomes are useful for summarizing progress in reproductive health. Important indicators are discussed and reveal significant racial disparities.
Jessica M. Black
Sleep is required for healthy and adaptive neurobehavioral and psychosocial functioning throughout the life course. Sleep is restorative, facilitates memory consolidation, improves immune function, and regulates emotional responses. Sleep deprivation, whether due to sleep disorders or other life conditions and transitions, is a significant risk factor for negative developmental outcomes at all stages in the life course. This article adheres to the biopsychosocial model to review current research describing the benefits of adequate sleep and ways in which insufficient sleep, as determined by developmental needs throughout the life course, can undercut healthy development. Particular attention is paid to social issues of relevance to social workers, with a closing discussion of policy and implications for future work within the field.
In social work, social capital is linked to both the prevention and treatment of mental and physical health. This concept has also been incorporated in the development of empowering interventions with marginalized minorities. The capacity-based and the youth development models of intervention, both call on social service organizations to work interdependently around meeting the needs for the human and social capital growth of youth (Morrison, Alcorn, & Nelums 1997). Social capital is also a feature of empowering interventions in neighborhoods and community development, as is collective efficacy, which is a measure of working trust that exists among residents and has been popularized as a way to stop youth high-risk behavior.
Paula S. Nurius and Charles P. Hoy-Ellis
Evolving understandings of stress have literally transformed how we think about health as contextualized within complex and multilevel transactions between individuals and their environment. We present core concepts of stress through the lens of life-course and life-span perspectives, emphasizing appraisal-based and biobehavioral models of stress response systems. We describe theories of allostatic load, embodiment, epigenetics, weathering processes, and accelerated aging that operationalize mechanisms through which stress affects health and contributes to health disparities. In addition to social determinant and life-span developmental perspectives on stress and health, we emphasize the value of health-promotive factors that can serve to buffer stress effects. Social work has important roles in targeting health-erosive stress from “neurons to neighborhoods”.
Julie Abramson and Laura R. Bronstein
Teams maximize the coordinated expertise of various professionals. Social work skills used with clients, especially contracting, monitoring team processes, managing conflict, creating a climate of openness, and developing and supporting group cohesion, need to be purposefully utilized in practice with teams. Social workers can improve team functioning by supporting families and clients as active team members and by addressing ethical issues, including confidentiality and the competence and ethics of team members. Although there is some outcome-based research on teams, more is needed. Emerging trends in this field include embedding the notion of teams in a wider web of collaborative activities, including those mandated by the Affordable Care Act, and giving attention to teams as a vital part of social work education.