Social Work Occupational Social Work
by
Elizabeth Ann Danto
  • LAST REVIEWED: 01 May 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 May 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0094

Introduction

Occupational social work is the practice specialization in which programs and interventions are targeted specifically to the population of the workplace. Like all other fields of practice, occupational social work is bound by the National Association of Social Workers’ Code of Ethics and the association’s Guidelines for Culturally Competent Practice. But in terms of opportunities for innovative research, intervention, and program development for the future, occupational social work is as boundless as the global economy. Arguably the profession’s youngest practice domain, occupational (also called “industrial”) social work may look like other specializations in social work, all designed to remedy gaps in human and social needs, except for the unique focus of its client population: people in the workplace as a functional community, including employees, job seekers, labor union members, and retirees. Today’s occupational social workers are challenged to meet the social welfare needs of workers and work organizations on multiple levels of practice and to fulfill multiple roles, often in innovative but fairly small service delivery models. Occupational social workers are expected to comply with ethical practice standards and to be familiar with fundamentals of social policy (such as employment, unemployment, and marginal or underemployment); the cultural value of “work” (or its absence) within ideological frameworks and human development; the structure of work-based social service programs; the significance of substance abuse, mental illness, gender, race, national origin, sexual orientation, and ability as workplace variables; and the historic centrality of work organizations and labor unions in the lives of clients and their families. This article contains information selected from the professional literature as well as allied social and behavioral sciences, social research and administration, and social welfare policy, including government resources. Program descriptions and treatment interventions are drawn from select clinical arenas, specialized journals, and web-based sources. Because occupational social work is international in scope, non-American sources are included if they are available in English.

Introductory Works

Because occupational social work is still relatively young as a practice specialization, these introductory readings refer to core theories, knowledge, and skills. Kurzman and Akabas 1981 was written in 1981, and it tells the beginnings of the story we read a generation later in Kurzman 2008, a thorough overview of the field in the early 21st century. Lewis 1997 says that this new field needs an equally new yet systematic set of skills, while Mor-Barak and Bar-Gal 2000 outlines how the field’s parameters fluctuated over two decades and where they are in the early 21st century.

  • Kurzman, Paul A. 2008. Occupational social work. In The encyclopedia of social work, 20 ed. Edited by Terry Mizrahi and Larry E. Davis, 311–319. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    A broad overview of the definitions, boundaries, conceptual frameworks, and trends in the field from its initial schema to its early 21st-century programs.

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    • Kurzman, Paul A., and Sheila Akabas. 1981. Industrial social work as an arena for practice. Social Work 26.1: 52–60.

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      The classic article that introduced a whole new field of practice; a must-read.

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      • Lewis, Beth. 1997. Occupational social work practice. In Social work in the 21st century. Edited by Michael Reisch and Eileen Gambrill, 226–238. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge.

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        How occupational social workers can apply systematically the specialized knowledge and skills they have accumulated in workplace settings to practice in welfare to work and other work-related programs.

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        • Mor-Barak, Michὰ1le E., and David Bar-Gal, eds. 2000. Social services in the workplace: Repositioning occupational social work in the new millennium. Binghamton, NY: Haworth.

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          This edited volume encompasses the scope of the field, its theoretical underpinnings and conceptual justification, research findings applicable to occupational social workers, and position papers on future directions within the profession.

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          General Overviews

          Sheila H. Akabas and Paul A. Kurzman are a team of scholars who combined elements of community organizing, economics, and clinical practice to blaze a new trail in social work beginning in the 1980s. Akabas and Kurzman 2005 shows that their passion for occupational social work has not dulled. Together with Kurzman and Akabas 1993 and Akabas and Kurzman 1982, the Akabas-Kurzman compendium summarizes the nature and scope of occupational social work in the early 21st century. The authors outline the role of occupational social workers in responding to the personal and systemic crises brought on by unemployment and by inadequate insurance, benefit, and support systems in the United States. The skills of occupational social workers, say Kurzman and Akabas, help management, labor organizations, and governments respond innovatively to the needs of workers, their families, organizations, and communities. Weiner, et al. 1973 describes a landmark labor-based mental health program, and Kamerman and Kahn 1987 offers principles of research on workplace policies from a social work perspective. Czander 1993 merges micro and macro theory to explore the functioning of work organizations. Gould and Smith 1988 probes the effects of and solutions to the psychological impact of unemployment.

          • Akabas, Sheila H., and Paul A. Kurzman. 2005. Work and the workplace: A resource for innovative policy and practice. Foundations of Social Work Knowledge. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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            The discussions and case illustrations review contemporary, evidence-based best practices that respond to the needs of the modern workplace.

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            • Akabas, Sheila H., and Paul A. Kurzman, eds. 1982. Work, workers, and work organizations: A view from social work. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

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              The culmination of a historic process that introduced the concepts of work, work affiliation, and workplace policy to social work education.

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              • Czander, William M. 1993. The psychodynamics of work and organizations: Theory and application. New York: Guilford.

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                An examination of employee-management interactions, the role of autonomy, and the impact of conscious and unconscious forces in workplace relationships, all against a backdrop of classic psychoanalytic theory.

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                • Gould, Gary M., and Michael Lane Smith, eds. 1988. Social work in the workplace: Practice and principles. New York: Springer.

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                  Strategies for intervention with individuals, families, and company management in the workplace, especially where the prospect of unemployment is looming.

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                  • Kamerman, Sheila B., and Alfred J. Kahn. 1987. The responsive workplace: Employers and a changing labor force. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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                    As the American workforce has changed to accommodate an increasing number of working parents, the workplace itself must also adapt. Sheila B. Kamerman and Alfred J. Kahn, two of the most respected authorities on work and the American family, explore how the workplace has responded to social change—and what more needs to be done.

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                    • Kurzman, Paul A., and Sheila H. Akabas. 1993. Work and well-being: The occupational social work advantage. Washington, DC: National Association of Social Workers.

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                      Why occupational social workers see a hugely diverse community of clients and how they handle gender, national origin, race, sexual orientation, health, and myriad other social concerns.

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                      • Weiner, Hyman J., Sheila H. Akabas, and John J. Sommer. 1973. Mental health care in the world of work. New York: Association.

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                        A seminal book in the field, this volume describes how a labor union developed strategies for assessing and assisting employees with problems in mental health.

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                        Journals

                        The Journal of Employee Assistance, Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, and EAP Digest focus exclusively on occupational social work and provide insights into trends and developments affecting the workplace and the workforce. Research on Social Work Practice and Administration in Social Work, both of which are professional journals on alcoholism and substance abuse, health sciences, social administration, and social research, often publish relevant research. One can also find relevant new data on practice and programming in journals devoted to human resources, management and leadership, organizational behavior, consulting, trauma, cross-cultural studies, psychology, and psychoanalysis. Social Work, the peer-reviewed journal of record of the National Association of Social Workers, has published some of the most significant practice, policy, and research articles since the early 1980s.

                        Government Resources

                        The US government’s web portal USA.gov is a vast resource for information on everything from the latest census data and workplace legislation to training protocols and program funding. All of it, including many of the videos and podcasts, is cost free. Occupational social workers will find the US General Services Administration particularly useful because it covers government services on the federal, state, and tribal levels. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration looks at countrywide alcohol and substance abuse programs, including training opportunities; National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funds and publishes cutting-edge research on alcoholism. US Office of Personnel Management is a user-friendly clearinghouse of information on jobs, retirement, child care, and issue-helpful practice guidelines (e.g., Tyler 1996). National Center for Health Statistics is of special importance to health care employees, and the US Census Bureau shows the big picture of employment and unemployment across the country.

                        Program Designs

                        The field of occupational social work has developed a range of workplace-specific service models and interventions. This section describes these approaches as well as the present and historical role of labor unions in helping organizations handle large-scale challenges, such as diversity, stress, wellness and prevention, and trauma, on both the domestic and the international levels.

                        Workplace Models and Interventions

                        The three most common models of occupational social work programs are “in-house,” where an organization houses and staffs its own program; “off-site,” where an organization contracts with a third party to provide services; and “consortium,” where several organizations band together to fund a joint program. Some specific work-sensitive skills interventions are necessary to effectively assist people in their capacities as employees and supervisors of a work organization. Occupational social workers often focus on job performance dynamics. Their functions include direct services, referrals, and consultation with supervisors. Root 2000, Tanner 1991, and Cook, et al. 1996 review in-house direct interventions that can provide troubled employees (and their families) with confidential crisis assistance, counseling, and other treatment. Googins 1993 and Cherin 2000 show the social worker’s role in referral, helping employees locate appropriate, affordable, and prescreened resources, such as day care for a newborn or outpatient chemical dependency treatment. Masi 1984 and Straussner 1988 offer precise guidelines for helping supervisory personnel document deteriorating job performance, talk to troubled employees and their coworkers, refer workers in need without diagnosing, and manage an employee’s “reentry” after a medical or treatment leave.

                        • Cherin, D. A. 2000. Organizational engagement and managing moments of maximum leverage: New roles for social workers in organizations. Administration in Social Work 23.4: 29–46.

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                          A review of the social engagement process and the practical implications of this model to promote effective and efficient work teams when organizations are challenged by complex operations, information flows, and human interactions.

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                          • Cook, R., A. Back, and J. Trudeau. 1996. Substance abuse prevention in the workplace: Recent findings and an expanded conceptual model. Journal of Primary Prevention 16:319–339.

                            DOI: 10.1007/BF02407428Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                            Describing how joint union-management teams work in two innovative auto industry education/training programs, the author explores the organizational context and specific challenges where the workplace is the “host” setting.

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                            • Googins, B. 1993. The organization as client: Broadening the concept of employee assistance programs. Social Work 38:477–484.

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                              A classic article that first defined how and why many Employee Assistance Programs are broadening their functions to address rapidly changing human and social concerns, refocusing their practices to also include the organization as the client.

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                              • Masi, Dale A. 1984. Designing employee assistance programs. New York: American Management Association.

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                                The Federal Comprehensive Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation Act (the Hughes Act) in 1970 established work-based alcoholism programs. The act created the National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA), required federal agencies to provide these programs for their employees, and helped other organizations implement them

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                                • Root, L. S. 2000. Education and training in the workplace: Social work interventions in the private sector. Administration in Social Work 23.3–4: 13–28.

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                                  The author explores the organizational context and the specific challenges involved in working in the workplace as a “host” setting. Lessons learned from this experience are discussed along with the broader implications for social work and income adequacy.

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                                  • Straussner, S. L. A. 1988. Comparison of in-house and contracted-out Employee Assistance Programs. Social Work 33.1: 53–55.

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                                    Until the early 1970s, nearly all Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) were “internal,” that is, a unit located and staffed within the organization. In the 1980s community-based agencies and proprietary organizations began providing EAP services outside the organization. In the early 21st century such external vendors are estimated to outnumber internal EAPs except in large organizations.

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                                    • Tanner, R. M., 1991. Social work: The profession of choice for EAPs. Employee Assistance Quarterly 6.3: 71–84.

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                                      Social work is considered the profession most qualified to staff early 21st-century employee assistance, occupational health and safety, organizational development, human resources, and corporate social responsibility programs.

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                                      The Role of Labor Unions

                                      “Labor has a unique role in strengthening contemporary American society,” American Federation of labor and Congress of Industrial Organizationspresident Lane Kirkland said in 1981, “to serve all working people and the entire nation.” Since 1881, when the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions first convened, the labor movement has been a stabilizing force in the national economy, elevating the American standard of living with negotiated benefits, such as pensions, health and welfare protection, grievance and arbitration procedures, the eight-hour workday, job safety, and vacations with pay. The International Association of Labor History Institutions presents a lively and relevant picture of this history. As Reynolds 1951 describes, labor unions initiated the concept of work-based social service programs for workers and their families as early as the 1940s. Some of these programs, called “member assistance” or “personal services” programs (and originally “industrial social work”), are jointly sponsored by labor and management, but most are administered by the union’s themselves (Blostein 1994, Molloy and Burmeister 1990). According to Kurzman and Maiden 2010, today’s member assistance program is much broader in concept, covering a range of human service areas, including child and elder care, stress management, disability and health care, mental health, and housing as well as chemical dependency and addictions treatment. Gonyea 2008 and Donovan, et al. 1993 review practice concerns, including confidentiality, style of service, organizational benefits and constraints, and dilemmas of auspices and sanction.

                                      • Blostein, S. 1994. Social work managers and unions: Terra incognita. Administration and Policy in Mental Health 21.3: 161–172.

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                                        Describes the historic ties between the labor movement and social work as well as the current status of the labor movement in the United States. A model is presented that can help social work managers understand organizing activities directed toward the organizations in which they work.

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                                        • Donovan, R., Paul A. Kurzman, and C. Rotman. 1993. Improving the lives of homecare workers: A partnership of social work and labor. Social Work (September) 38.5: 579–585.

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                                          At the time it was published, the findings in this article prompted national changes in home care services. Data on working conditions in the industry suggested that structural reform was urgently needed in the employment system for home care workers in New York City, despite the city’s pioneering publicly financed sixty-thousand-member home care workforce.

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                                          • Gonyea, J. G. 2008. America’s aging workforce: A critical business issue. Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health 23.1–2: 1–14.

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                                            How occupational social workers can offer general social services for active retired seniors and also for frail elderly people previously cared for by their families.

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                                            • International Association of Labor History Institutions.

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                                              The International Association of Labour History Institutions brings together archives, libraries, documentation centers, museums, and research institutions specializing in the history and theory of the labor movement from all over the world.

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                                              • Kurzman, Paul A., and R. P. Maiden. 2010. Union contributions to labor welfare policy and practice: Past, present, and future. London: Routledge.

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                                                A showcase of best initiatives and major achievements that demonstrate how organized labor has positively influenced employee rights and the development of workplace human services.

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                                                • Molloy, Daniel, and Lynn Burmeister. 1990. Social workers in union-based programs. Employee Assistance Quarterly 5.1: 37–51.

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                                                  One of the first papers to review conceptualizations and implementation strategies of social service programs in labor unions.

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                                                  • Reynolds, Bertha C. 1951. Social work and social living. Washington, DC: National Association of Social Workers

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                                                    The capstone volume of a pioneering social work teacher and writer, this inspired book draws on Marxist theory to explain the meaning of “membership” in human life as seen, in particular, in a labor union’s member assistance program.

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                                                    Diversity

                                                    Ethnic-sensitive practice is critical to the success of workplace social services (generally housed in employee assistance programs) where organizations may be facing potentially volatile issues. Moreover, organizations that subscribe to an ethos of workplace flexibility recognize the need to help employees manage transitions and conflicts. In work organizations, say Daly 1998 and Fine, et al. 1990, employee assistance programs can use cross-cultural training as a method for recognizing and researching “difference as difference,” as opposed to “difference as deficit” or “difference as better.” In some organizations, the Employee Assistance Program itself is an initial attempt to reduce racial conflict (Covin and Wiggins 1989) and homophobia (Poverny 2000) and give all employees a safe space and support. While many social workers have written about the theory and practice of diversity, Mor-Barak, et al. 2003 and Mor-Barak, et al. 2005 stand as benchmark references.

                                                    • Covin, S. A., and F. Wiggins. 1989. An antiracism training model for white professionals. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development 17.7: 105–114.

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                                                      A framework for professionals who strive to achieve antiracist and antioppressive transformation.

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                                                      • Daly, Alfrieda, ed. 1998. Workplace diversity: Issues and perspectives. Washington, DC: National Association of Social Workers.

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                                                        The development of good human relations skills is explored as a strategy for promoting equity and celebrating diversity in the workplace.

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                                                        • Fine, M. G., F. L. Johnson, and M. S. Ryan. 1990. Cultural diversity in the workplace. Public Personnel Management 19.3: 305–319.

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                                                          Researchers of cultural diversity in organizations must locate alternative theoretical perspectives, such as feminist theories, critical theories, and sociological paradigms, for future diversity studies.

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                                                          • Mor-Barak, Michàlle E. 2005. Managing diversity: Toward a globally inclusive workplace. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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                                                            A comprehensive overview of the corporate role for inclusiveness as part of workforce management at community, state, federal, and international levels.

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                                                            • Mor-Barak, Michàlle E., L. Findler, and L. Wind. 2003. Cross-cultural aspects of diversity and well-being in the workplace: An international perspective. Journal of Social Work Research and Evaluation 4.3: 145–169.

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                                                              Instead of teaching about national cultural differences in ways that encourage stereotyping and ethnocentrism, programs need to develop managers’ cultural competence—critical thinking skills to analyze and work with culturally diverse individuals in culturally complex situations.

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                                                              • Poverny, L. 2000. Employee assistance practice with sexual minorities. Administration in Social Work 23.3–4: 69–91.

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                                                                Explores employee assistance multisubsystem practice with lesbian and gay workers as a problem-solving process and intervention strategies with individual sexual minority workers, managers, and policy makers within the workplace.

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                                                                International Occupational Social Work

                                                                For the past few decades, workplace social services have expanded their purview along with the increasingly global economy. Choi 2004 and Lewis 1997 show that organizational attempts to deal with the new economic environment and its facilitating technology have been helped by occupational social workers. Maiden 2001 and Masi and Murray 2005 explore the targeted research that has gone into this expanded model, while Iversen 2001 describes new and necessary culturally based skill development. Published in the United Kingdom, Institute of Alcohol Studies 2009 is an illustrated application of the World Health Organization’s position on this global issue.

                                                                • Choi, S. 2004. Roles and opportunities for social work intervention in expatriate work environments. International Social Work 46.2: 221–233.

                                                                  DOI: 10.1177/0020872803046002007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                  Information for social workers and others working with spouses and repatriates regarding the reentry phenomenon and the development of intervention strategies in working with repatriates and their families in other occupations requiring extended overseas stays.

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                                                                  • Institute of Alcohol Studies. 2009. Alcohol and the workplace 2007. St. Ives, UK: Institute of Alcohol Studies.

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                                                                    This useful fact sheet on alcoholism in the workplace in the United Kingdom includes the World Health Organization’s European Charter on Alcohol, statistics, and alcohol policy templates.

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                                                                    • Iversen, R. R. 2001. Occupational social work and job retention supports. International Social Work 44.3: 329–342.

                                                                      DOI: 10.1177/002087280104400305Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      How occupational social workers have specific training for handling both the macro-structural and the micro-personal concerns (interpersonal and family stresses, the higher incidence of substance use, anxiety and depression) arising from globalized unemployment trends.

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                                                                      • Lewis, Richard D. 1997. When cultures collide: Managing successfully across cultures. London: Nicholas Brealey.

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                                                                        A straightforward book with pragmatic tools for working empathetically among and between people of varying customs (Americans included), from body gestures (hands, feet) to traditions (sense of time, respect and disrespect).

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                                                                        • Maiden, R. P. 2001. Global perspectives of occupational social work. New York: Haworth.

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                                                                          Seven chapters contributed by eight authors from Australia, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, South Africa, and the United States reveal the similarities and differences in the roles of occupational social workers and their responsibilities in the social, political, and economic climates that shape their workplaces; how the profession has evolved in the seven countries represented here; and the impact of occupational social workers on the workplace.

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                                                                          • Masi, Dale A., and M. Murray. 2005. The international employee assistance compendium. 3d ed. Boston: Masi Research Consultants.

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                                                                            Covers specific models of Employee Assistance Programs in thirty-five countries and includes a valuable compendium of contacts and resources (names, titles, addresses, telephones, facsimiles, e-mails, and website information).

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                                                                            Selected Practice Themes

                                                                            As the National Association of Social Workers notes in its description of career choices available to social workers, “the breadth and scope of the [occupational social worker’s] duties can be enormous—one minute helping an executive cope with the strain of an impending takeover, the next counseling an anorexic young trainee.” This section of this bibliography offers a selection of literature on the field’s major direct practice areas: alcoholism, substance abuse and other addictions, stress and wellness, balancing work and family life, and disability accommodation.

                                                                            Addictions in the Workplace

                                                                            Should occupational social workers focus primarily on substance abuse, particularly alcoholism, or should their services be conceptualized more broadly to include any personal or system problem troubling workers and their families? This ongoing debate stems from the history of the field, claim Roman 1990 and Zhang 1999, when the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded the first labor and industrial service programs, generally affiliated with the Association of Labor-Management Administrators and Consultants on Alcoholism (ALMACA, reconfigured in 1989 as the Employee Assistance Professionals Association, or EAPA). Ideology aside, all employers and trade unions must be responsive to substance abuse and alcoholism, though, as Moore 1998 writes, they must also refrain from prejudgment. In the early 21st century, as seen in El-Bassel, et al. 1997 and Scanlon 1991, occupational social workers have assumed necessary leadership in addiction programs and policies as well as collaboration with self-help groups and other community-based organizations. Bennett and Lehman 1997 and Howland, et al. 1996 explore this practice and research from the client’s perspective.

                                                                            • Bennett, J. B., and W. Lehman. 1997. Employee views of organizational wellness and EAP: Influence on substance use, drinking climates, and policy attitudes. Employee Assistance Quarterly 13.1: 55–71.

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                                                                              Results of this empirical study suggest that, beyond the influence of the Employee Assistance Program, worksite health may affect both individual and work group substance use.

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                                                                              • El-Bassel, N., R. F. Schilling, S. Schinke, M. Orlandi, W.-H. Sun, and S. Back. 1997. Assessing the utility of the Drug Abuse Screening Test in the workplace. Research on Social Work Practice 7.1: 99–114.

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                                                                                This study attempted to determine the quality and assess the psychometric properties of the Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST) among Employee Assistance Program(EAP) clients. At times controversial, the study findings support for using the DAST as a screening tool by EAP workers who provide services for substance-using individuals.

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                                                                                • Howland, J., T. W. Mangione, M. Lee, N. Bell, and S. Levine. 1996. Employee attitudes toward work-site alcohol testing. Journal of Occupational Environmental Medicine 38:1041–1046.

                                                                                  DOI: 10.1097/00043764-199610000-00016Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  As a company policy, employee drug testing can be viewed as skirting the rights of an employee to privacy as much as it supports employees’ rights to a safe work environment.

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                                                                                  • Moore, R. S. 1998. The hangover: An ambiguous concept in workplace alcohol policy. Contemporary Drug Problems 25:49–63.

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                                                                                    Although numerous scientific papers cover the acute effects of alcohol consumption, researchers largely neglect responses to alcohol hangover at the workplace. This paper is an attempt to remedy this gap.

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                                                                                    • Roman, Paul M., ed. 1990. Alcohol problem intervention in the workplace: Employee assistance programs and strategic alternatives. Westport, CT: Quorum.

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                                                                                      An analysis of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s influence on work-based programs and why programs designed to address a wider range of problems are more successful in identifying and treating alcohol-abusing employees.

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                                                                                      • Scanlon, Walter F. 1991. Alcoholism and drug abuse in the workplace: Managing care and costs through employment assistance programs. 2d ed. New York: Praeger.

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                                                                                        Overview of major psychoactive drugs (including alcohol), assessment and diagnosis of drug problems, workplace intervention and counseling skills.

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                                                                                        • Zhang, Zhiwei, Lynn Huang, and Angela M. Brittingham. 1999. Worker drug use and workplace policies and programs: Results from the 1994 and 1997 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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                                                                                          An empirical study showing that heavy drinkers—people who drink five or more drinks on five or more occasions in a thirty-day period—are much more likely than average workers to miss days for injuries, illnesses, and unexcused absences.

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                                                                                          Stress, Wellness, and Prevention

                                                                                          Occupational social workers can—and should—offer a continuum of care that addresses the full range of employee and family needs, including accessible and ongoing stress management with an emphasis on its prevention. To this end, Faul 2002 quantifies the effectiveness of wellness programs, which can involve short-term models described by Gladstone and Reynolds 1997. Muller and Volkov 2009 is an international study of older workers, and both Ramanathan 1992 and Vicary 1994 offer strategies for handling similarly underserved populations. Snow and Kline 1995 apply these strategies to employees with psychiatric vulnerabilities and Nower 2003 to those who gamble in excess. Sulsky and Smith 2005 presents an overall picture of human stress incurred in the workplace and what can be done about it.

                                                                                          • Faul, A. C. 2002. Comprehensive assessment in occupational social work: The development and validation of the Corporate Behavioral Wellness Inventory. Research on Social Work Practice 12.1: 47–70.

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                                                                                            A report on the development and validation of the Corporate Behavioral Wellness Inventory (CBWI), specifically designed for use by occupational social workers to assess employees’ strengths or to use as part of service delivery to employees.

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                                                                                            • Gladstone, J., and Tom Reynolds. 1997. Single session group work intervention in response to employees stress during workforce transformation. Social Work with Groups 20.1: 33–49.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.1300/J009v20n01_04Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              A stress and coping model for work teams subject to changes in the workplace.

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                                                                                              • Muller, Charlotte, and Oleg Volkov. 2009. Older women: Work and caregiving in conflict? A study of four countries. Social Work in Health Care 48.7: 665–695.

                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/00981380902921732Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                Using demographic and economic data from the United States, France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, the authors document the importance of continued labor force participation for older women to make ends meet in an era of high household costs for physician services, prescription drugs, and other health-related services and uncertainties about pensions.

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                                                                                                • Nower, L. 2003. Pathological gamblers in the workplace: A primer for employers. Employee Assistance Quarterly 18.4: 55–72.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1300/J022v18n04_03Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  An overview of financial, legal, and psychosocial consequences of unrestrained gambling, with intervention strategies for workplaces where the Internet provides almost unlimited access to gambling.

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                                                                                                  • Ramanathan, C. S. 1992. EAP’s response to personal stress and productivity: Implications for occupational social work. Social Work 37:234–239.

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                                                                                                    This study explores the association of stress and job satisfaction and describes how social workers can include stress theory in their interventions to improve clients’ job satisfaction.

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                                                                                                    • Snow, David L., and Marsha L. Kline. 1995. Preventive interventions in the workplace to reduce negative psychiatric consequences of work and family stress. In Does stress cause psychiatric illness? Edited by Carolyn M. Mazure, 221–287. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric.

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                                                                                                      On the interplay of stress, depression, and addictive disorders, with a particular interest in gender-specific predictors of illness onset and treatment outcome and issues of importance to women’s health in the workplace.

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                                                                                                      • Sulsky, Lorene, and Carla Smith. 2005. Work stress. Belmont, CA: Thomson.

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                                                                                                        Decreasing work stress has become a national priority at personal, organizational, and societal levels. Here is a conceptual model of work stress and how to decrease it.

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                                                                                                        • Vicary, J. R. 1994. Primary prevention and the workplace. Journal of Primary Prevention 15.2: 99–103.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1007/BF02197141Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          This article reviews various approaches to worksite-based substance abuse prevention and presents the results of a new program aimed at the individual worker, including an expanded conceptual model for workplace substance abuse prevention.

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                                                                                                          Trauma

                                                                                                          Workplace trauma can occur with the sudden death of an employee, an act of violence, a serious on-the-job accident, criminal acts, or even downsizing and restructuring. To what extent does untreated workplace trauma lead to decreased productivity, increased health claims, poor morale, and staff resignations (Fairris and Brenner 2001)? As a useful set of responses, both Beidel and Brennan 2006 and Townsend 1998 explain that, when workplace trauma does occur, occupational social workers are well prepared to help employees cope and recover.

                                                                                                          • Beidel, Bernard E., and Kristine N. Brennan. 2006. Embracing trauma response from the EAP perspective. Journal of Employee Assistance 36.2: 3–7.

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                                                                                                            Given the growing availability of practice information, it would be unacceptable for today’s Employee Assistance professional to lack a working knowledge of trauma response issues or to fail to appreciate the nuances of an Employee Assistance Program’s response to, and management of, a traumatic incident in the workplace.

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                                                                                                            • Fairris, D., and M. Brenner. 2001. Workplace transformation and the rise in cumulative trauma disorders: Is there a connection? Journal of Labor Research 22.1: 15–28.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1007/s12122-001-1001-3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              On the relationship between workplace change, occupational illnesses, and the rise in cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs) and how to reduce workers’ discontent with worsening health effects of their job.

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                                                                                                              • Townsend, C. J. 1998. Critical incident stress debriefing in international aid workers. Journal of Travel Medicine 5.4: 226–227.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1111/j.1708-8305.1998.tb00514.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                How overseas workers, especially in development and relief work, are at real risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and what to do about it.

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                                                                                                                Harassment

                                                                                                                Occupational social workers may find themselves drawn into issues of workplace discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, age, race, religion, immigration, national origin, language, marital status and pregnancy, health status, legal status, and more. While occupational social workers should not replace human resources personnel, Equal Employment Opportunity compliance officers, or labor union representatives, Porter 2006 and Roberts and Roberts 2007 present relevant policies and describe the human effects of disenfranchisement in the workplace. It is important, for example, to be aware of sexual harassment guidelines, from federal laws to the work organization’s in-house policy, as seen in Omilian 1991 and Richman, et al. 1999. Bouzianis 2008 and Wingfield 2007 bring to light some of the subtle factors at play in race and gender harassment.

                                                                                                                • Bouzianis, Bill, James P. Malcolm, and Lisa Hallab. 2008. Factors associated with sexual identity disclosure in the workplace by gay men and lesbians: A couples study. Gay and Lesbian Issues and Psychology Review 4.3: 166–176.

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                                                                                                                  Describes how strategies aimed at reducing internalized homophobia and increasing workplace nondiscrimination policies may facilitate organizational acceptance of sexual identity disclosure.

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                                                                                                                  • Omilian, Susan. 1991. What every employer should be doing about sexual harassment. Madison, CT: Business and Legal Reports.

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                                                                                                                    A clear and jargon-free book that defines sexual harassment, outlines the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rules, and provides a sample training program, policies, and forms.

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                                                                                                                    • Porter, N. B. 2006. Victimizing the abused? Is termination the solution when domestic violence comes to work? Michigan Journal of Gender and Law 12.2: 275–331.

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                                                                                                                      Workplace violence is the leading cause of death for employed women, in part because of domestic violence spillover, as described in this article, where abusers harm their victims as well as any coworkers who try to intervene.

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                                                                                                                      • Richman, J. A., K. M. Rospenda, S. J. Nawyn, J. A. Flaherty, M. Fendrich, M. L. Drum, and T. P. Johnson. 1999. Sexual harassment and generalized workplace abuse among university employees: Prevalence and mental health correlates. American Journal of Public Health 89:358–363.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.89.3.358Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        New empirical evidence on the degree to which women academics experience a greater number of obstacles and more critical judgments about their work performance than do academic men.

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                                                                                                                        • Roberts, L. M., and D. D. Roberts. 2007. Testing the limits of anti-discrimination law: The business, legal, and ethical ramifications of cultural profiling at work. Duke Journal of Gender Law and Policy 14:369–406.

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                                                                                                                          Occupational social workers should be aware of “workplace cultural profiling” where heightened scrutiny and performance constraints decrease workers’ (especially those from marginalized groups) productivity, even in diverse organizational settings.

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                                                                                                                          • Wingfield, A. H. 2007. The modern mammy and the angry black man: African American professionals’ experiences with gendered racism in the workplace. Race, Gender, and Class 14.1–2: 196–213.

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                                                                                                                            Explores how black professionals experience racism in the workplace as a gendered phenomenon and the impact of that racism on minorities.

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                                                                                                                            Work and Family

                                                                                                                            The workplace can be a family support system providing flexible scheduling of work hours, part-time work on a full-time basis, maternity and paternity leave, and sponsored child care and other measures that support family cohesion. But the workplace can also be a source of stress and dissatisfaction that intrudes on family life, reinforces racial and gender discrimination, and fails to meet human needs for respect and autonomy. It is often up to occupational social workers to help employees balance the two, as Akabas 1985 demonstrates and Fredriksen and Scharlach 1997 confirms. Mains, et al. 2006 and Van Breda 1999 put forward new interventions that draw specifically on occupational social work skills.

                                                                                                                            • Akabas, Sheila H. 1985. Workers are parents, too. Child Welfare 63.5: 387–399.

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                                                                                                                              The nuclear family, structured to permit the separation of work and family, is still the model for most employment policy. This model is inefficient today, the author says, and industry should support the needs of the changing family, where adults (both mothers and fathers) make up the workforce and their children will be the workforce.

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                                                                                                                              • Fredriksen, Karen I., and Andrew E. Scharlach. 1997. Caregiving and employment: The impact of workplace characteristics on role strain. Journal of Gerontological Social Work 28.4: 3–22.

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                                                                                                                                A study with useful implications for the development of workplace policies and procedures that are responsive to the unique needs of diverse employee groups.

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                                                                                                                                • Mains, Douglas A., Thomas J. Fairchild, and Antonio A. René. 2006. An employee assistance program for caregiver support. Journal of Gerontological Social Work 47.1–2: 157–173.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1300/J083v47n01_10Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  Caregiver support programs must continue to seek innovative and creative outreach and service delivery methods to assist working caregivers in need of support.

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                                                                                                                                  • Van Breda, A. D. 1999. Developing resilience to routine separations: An occupational social work intervention. Families in Society 80.6: 597–605.

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                                                                                                                                    Business, sales, the military, and politics are just some of the professions that require recurring separations between members of a family system. Occupational social work interventions and research can help families resist the stress of separations—or foster their “separation resilience.”

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                                                                                                                                    Ability, Disability, and Mental Health

                                                                                                                                    The pervasiveness and significance of the disability experience has become a universal concern, whether from the perspective of the individual or that of society. Ever since the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was enacted by the US Congress workplace responses to disability and the impact of disability’s onset, course, severity, needs for accommodation, and stigma have been frequently managed by occupational social workers. This new area of practice is well described by Pardeck 1988, and a creative implementation is found in Bartkowski, et al. 2007. Moxley and Finch 2003 offers a broad overview of significant practice and research themes in this area. As specializations, Kessler, et al. 2006 focuses on psychiatric disabilities and O’Brien 2005 on the intersection of women and disability.

                                                                                                                                    • Bartkowski, John P., Vaughn R. A. Call, Tim B. Heaton, and Renata Forste. 2007. Religion, job readiness, and employment outcomes: The case of Latter-Day Saint employment resource services. Research on Social Work Practice 17.2: 188–198.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1177/1049731506287074Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      A study that sheds new light on the prospects and challenges of faith-based efforts to assist unemployed and underemployed job seekers.

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                                                                                                                                      • Kessler, Ronald C., Hagop S. Akiskal, Minnie Ames, Howard Birnbaum, Paul Greenberg, Robert M. A. Hirschfeld, Robert Jin, Kathleen R. Merikangas, Gregory E. Simon, and Philip S. Wang. 2006. Prevalence and effects of mood disorders on work performance in a nationally representative sample of U.S. workers. American Journal of Psychiatry 163.9: 1561–1568.

                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.163.9.1561Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        Bipolar disorder is associated with 65.5 and major depressive disorder with 27.2 lost workdays per ill worker per year. Employer interest in the workplace costs of mood disorders should be broadened beyond major depressive disorder to include bipolar disorder.

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                                                                                                                                        • Moxley, David P., and John R. Finch, eds. 2003. Sourcebook of rehabilitation and mental health practice. New York: Plenum.

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                                                                                                                                          This volume reflects the changing nature of rehabilitation and work, the promise and challenges of employment, service roles and contexts in rehabilitation and mental health practice, employment readiness and permanence programs, and the needs of people coping with a range of disabilities.

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                                                                                                                                          • O’Brien, Ruth. 2005. Other voices at the workplace: Gender, disability, and an alternative ethic of care. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 30.2: 1529–1555.

                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1086/423350Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                            This article offers an integrated alternative to the medical and social models of disability and uses case studies to illuminate its complex implications.

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                                                                                                                                            • Pardeck, John T. 1988. Social work after the Americans with Disabilities Act: New challenges and opportunities for social service professionals. Westport, CT: Auburn House.

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                                                                                                                                              A detailed overview and analysis of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the significance of the new rights and protections extended to people with disabilities, and the range of opportunities for disabled people and their advocates.

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                                                                                                                                              • Rosen, Anita L. and Elise Brady. 1997. Americans with Disabilities Act and social work: Annotated bibliography.

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                                                                                                                                                The National Association of Social Workers comprehensive list of professional articles on social work practice as related to people with disabilities.

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                                                                                                                                                Future Directions in Occupational Social Work

                                                                                                                                                As we have seen, occupational social work has expanded at a rapid pace since the 1970s. While more than 65 million employees are now covered by work-based programs, this represents only about 33 percent of full-time employees, and access by part-time employees remains underresearched. People making the transition from welfare to work, new areas for research, and a critical perspective on the field as a whole wrap up this review.

                                                                                                                                                Welfare to Work

                                                                                                                                                In Western culture, “work” is largely an individual experience and takes on the meaning of life satisfaction, self-esteem, purpose in life, and sense of hope. According to Goldsmith, et al. 1997, employment status (part-time and full-time) is more significantly related to self-esteem than are education level, family configuration, and marital status, especially among women. The occupational social worker’s ability to contribute to the development and administration of workplace benefits and services becomes increasingly important, according to Van den Bergh 2004, as the job-related systems take on ever greater responsibility in financing services for the more than 146 million Americans in the work force and their families. Lambert, et al. 2008 presents a solid overview of the intersection between work and human welfare, expanding on the Wilson 1996 account of its breakdown. Welfare-to-work programs, arguably a response to this structural malfunction, are reviewed by Hasenfeld 2000 and by Jagannathan and Camasso 2006 from the clients’ perspective.

                                                                                                                                                • Goldsmith, A. H., J. R. Weum, and W. Darity. 1997. Unemployment, joblessness, psychological well-being, and self-esteem: Theory and evidence. Journal of Socio-Economics 26.2: 133–158.

                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1016/S1053-5357(97)90030-5Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                  Provides evidence that for both young men and women who spent time out of the labor force, the greater the duration of their exposure to this form of joblessness, the lower their level of self-esteem.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Hasenfeld, Y. 2000. Social services and welfare-to-work programs: Prospects for the social work profession. Administration in Social Work 23.3–4: 185–199.

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                                                                                                                                                    Since 1996 welfare departments have been converted into employment and social service, incorporating social work values and practices into public assistance. The most promising programs are voluntary, available to all poor people, and exist outside the domain of the welfare department.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Jagannathan, Radha, and Michael J. Camasso. 2006. Public assistance workers’ confidence in welfare-to-work programs and the clients they serve. Administration in Social Work 30.1: 7–32.

                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1300/J147v30n01_02Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      Research that identifies the sources of under performance in the welfare-to-work workforce as well as suggestions for increasing workforce confidence.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Lambert, Susan J., Michael A. Dover, Barbara Hunter, Randall Joseph, Ruth Paris, and Ellen R. DeVoe, Toba Kerson, and Edward R. Canda, . 2008. Human needs: Work and employment. In The encyclopedia of social work, 20 ed. Edited Terry Mizrahi and Larry E. Davis, 418–422. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                        This up-to-date encyclopedia entry traces the development of both theory and empirical knowledge on the relationship between work and mental and physical health.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Van Den Bergh, Nan. 2004. Where have we been? . . . Where are we going? Employee assistance practice in the 21st century. Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health 16.1: 1–13.

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                                                                                                                                                          Given the changing trends within the Employee Assistance Program field and the prevalence of EAPs internationally, a new program model—a strengths-based and solution-focused approach with involvement in multiple aspects of an organization’s work culture—may be more relevant to the diverse needs of the early 21st-century employee.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Wilson, William J. 1996. When work disappears: The world of the new urban poor. New York: Random House.

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                                                                                                                                                            Changes in the global economy and the disappearance of unskilled but decent-paying jobs near cities, according to Wilson, have deprived the urban working class (particularly African Americans) of steady jobs and destroyed inner-city businesses.

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                                                                                                                                                            Research

                                                                                                                                                            To understand occupational social work’s capability in the profession, works such as Iversen 1998 have looked at recruitment, retention, and attrition of its members. Quantitative and qualitative studies (Hartwell, et al. 1996 and Masi and Jacobson 2003) have examined cost-benefit factors within occupational social work, and French, et al. 1997 examines the same with a national scope. Specifically investigating a range of occupational social work tropes, Blum and Roman 1992 studies the concept of “effectiveness,” Foote and Erfurt 1991 examines “outcome,” and Kenkel 1997 analyzes “program models” for economic viability.

                                                                                                                                                            • Blum, T. C., and P. M. Roman. 1992. A description of clients using employee assistance programs. Alcohol Health and Research World 16.2: 120–128.

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                                                                                                                                                              The identification and treatment of alcoholic workers with intact families and jobs but whose problems cost their employers in lost productivity and health expenses.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Foote, A., and J. C. Erfurt. 1991. Effects of EAP follow-up on prevention of relapse among substance abuse clients. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 52.3: 241–248.

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                                                                                                                                                                How and why clients in a special follow-up group showed better results than clients in the regular care group on three measures related to substance abuse.

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                                                                                                                                                                • French, M. T., G. A. Zarkin, J. W. Bray, and T. D. Hartwell. 1997. Costs of employee assistance programs: Findings from a national survey. American Journal of Health Promotion 11.3: 219–222.

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                                                                                                                                                                  The authors’ methodology combines a process description to understand the structure and operating environment of the Employee Assistance Program, with cost analysis and outcomes analysis for evaluating program effectiveness.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Hartwell, Tyler D., Paul Steele, Michael T. French, Frank J. Potter, Nathaniel F. Rodman, and Gary A. Zarkin. 1996. Aiding troubled employees: The prevalence, cost, and characteristics of employee assistance programs in the United States. American Journal of Public Health 86:804–808.

                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.86.6.804Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    One of the first research studies to determine the prevalence, cost, and characteristics of Employee Assistance Programs in the United States by worksite size, industry, and census region.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Iversen, R. 1998. Occupational social work for the 21st century. Social Work 43.6: 551–566.

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                                                                                                                                                                      An outline of employment-related needs among poor people in the context of economic and policy change as well as the skills needed for expanded occupational social work practice.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Kenkel, D. S. 1997. Self-insurance and worksite alcohol programs: An econometric analysis. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 58.2: 211–219.

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                                                                                                                                                                        The central question considered in the empirical analysis is whether firms’ decisions about worksite alcohol programs are related to how employee group health insurance is provided.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Masi, Dale A., and Jodi M. Jacobson. 2003. Outcome measurements of an integrated employee assistance and work-life program. Research on Social Work Practice 13.4: 451–467.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1177/1049731503013004003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          Findings from this study show that utilization of the program decreased stress levels among employees. Their attendance improved, work performance increased in quality, and relationships with supervisors and coworkers were better.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Critiques of Occupational Social Work

                                                                                                                                                                          Postmodern shifts in thinking about families, aging, and intervention have dramatically challenged the fundamental paradigms of social work practice, including occupational social work theory and the nature of intervention. This section offers critiques of workplace services from both practice and policy perspectives. Bakalinsky 1980 and Kurzman 2000 tackle a perennial quandary in occupational social work: to what extent does the profession itself enable organizations to increase profits at the expense of workers’ well-being? Wagner 1997 explores this challenging narrative from a historical perspective.

                                                                                                                                                                          • Bakalinsky, R. 1980. People vs. profits: Social work in industry. Social Work 25.6: 471–475.

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                                                                                                                                                                            A classic article arguing that, because the ethical issues of occupational social work are insuperable, social work practitioners should not enter this field.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Kurzman, Paul A. 2000. Bakalinsky’s conundrum: Should social workers practice in the world of work? Administration in Social Work 23.3–4: 157–161.

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                                                                                                                                                                              While noting his respect for R. Bakalinsky’s reasoning, Paul A. Kurzman explains his rationale for arriving at a different conclusion.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Wagner, David. 1997. The new temperance: The American obsession with sin and vice. Boulder, CO: Westview.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Drawing on historical, sociological, and philosophical sources, the author argues the new temperance, in the form of employee assistance programs, is a strategy serving state and dominant social class interests.

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