In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Women's Health Care

  • Introduction
  • Textbooks
  • Journals
  • Aging
  • Cancer
  • Disabilities
  • HIV & AIDS
  • Mental Health
  • Reproductive Health
  • Substance Abuse
  • Violence

Related Articles Expand or collapse the "related articles" sectionabout

Forthcoming Articles Expand or collapse the "forthcoming articles" section

  • Rare and Orphan Diseases and Social Work Practice
  • Social Work Practice with Transgender and Gender Expansive Youth
  • Unaccompanied Immigrant and Refugee Children
  • Find more forthcoming articles...


Social Work Women's Health Care
Caren J. Frost
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 March 2014
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 March 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0154


In 2009, women composed approximately 49.75 percent of the world’s population of over six billion people. The number of women in the world is increasing at a faster rate than the number of men. As a consequence, parameters for social work education, practice, and policy relating to women’s health care should be of top concern to clinicians and researchers even though discussions about women’s health care are relatively new in the social work literature. A broad view about women’s health care was taken when researching the scholarly literature for pertinent sources for this article. Additionally, the Center of Excellence for Women’s Health at the University of Utah stipulates that a substantive view of the topic should include seven domains of health: cultural/social, economic/occupational, environmental, intellectual, mental/emotional, physical, and spiritual/religious. It is with this broader view of women’s health that literature was identified and this bibliography was constructed. A review of the article database Academic Search Premier and JSTOR provided a listing of approximately 2,000 potential articles about social work and women’s health. Each article abstract was reviewed and culled to 120 relevant articles for this bibliography. The major topic areas about women’s health identified in these 120 articles were: Aging, Cancer, Disabilities, HIV & AIDS, Mental Health, Reproductive Health, Substance Abuse, and Violence, with the most salient articles in the social work literature addressing mental health, reproduction, and violence. As the articles for these major topics were reviewed, journals were identified and searched for further publications in the scholarly literature about these themes. Finally, textbooks and online resources are included that address how social work impacts women’s health in education, practice, policy, and/or research. Overall, women’s health care is an expansive topic area and is quite open for more in-depth research and furthering discussions about social work practice issues utilizing social work as a disciplinary frame. Additionally, the topics of women’s health in conflict zones, the military, and prisons, as well as sex trafficking and human exploitation could further broaden this bibliography. Current literature is being published by social workers in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Authors from countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin/South America are also publishing their research, but to a far lesser degree. As a consequence, the social work literature views women’s health care and women’s health issues through a Western lens, a perspective that will be apparent in this bibliography.


Social work textbooks that include the topics of women’s health care tend to be multidisciplinary––a hallmark of social work in general. The textbooks listed here are general and link to the topic areas identified in the literature search for this bibliography. Textbooks for addictions/substance abuse (Briggs and Pepperell 2009 and Higgins, et al. 2008), aging (Doll 2012 and Butler and Lewis 2002), cancer (Abel and Subramanian 2008), disabilities (Oliver, et al. 2012), general health (Boston Women’s Health Book Collection 2011), and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) health (Makadon, et al. 2008) for women are included in this section. Our Bodies, Ourselves is quite comprehensive and provides information about most facets of women’s lives, but through a Western lens. Briggs and Pepperell 2009 as well as Higgins, et al. 2008 provide applied information about substance abuse and addictions in terms of treatment options and include areas that practitioners should be cognizant of when working with these populations. All of these books serve to highlight the biological, cultural, legal, physical, and social contexts within which health and mental health care for women should be considered (Alexander, et al. 2014). In addition, Western countries have developed collectives and/or institutes for presenting information about specific health issues for women. The Council on Social Work Education, provides lively and current discussions on books and includes ideas for teaching these topics in diverse classroom settings.

  • Abel, E. K., and S. K. Subramanian. 2008. After the cure: The untold stories of breast cancer survivors. New York: New York Univ. Press.

    Interviews of breast cancer survivors. Illustrates women’s decisions and relationships with their own bodies as they manage breast cancer. The stories detail how the medical system deals with these women’s issues. A film, titled Beyond Breast Cancer: Stories of Survivors, is available and augments the book’s information.

  • Alexander, Linda L., Judith H. LaRosa, Helaine Bader, Susan Garfield, and William Alexander. 2014. New dimensions in women’s health. 6th ed. Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning.

    This text, in its newest edition, provides a multidisciplinary view of women’s health from a gendered and ethnic-based perspective. It allows the reader to consider how social disparities impact women’s health and how women’s well-being can be promoted.

  • Boston Women’s Health Book Collective. 2011. Our bodies, ourselves. 40th anniversary ed. New York: Touchstone.

    This classic text details women’s experiences throughout the life span. This up-to-date book provides clear information about various domains of women’s health from a Western perspective.

  • Briggs, Cynthia A., and Jennifer L. Pepperell. 2009. Women, girls, and addiction: Celebrating the feminine in counseling treatment and recovery. New York: Routledge.

    This book emphasizes different treatment modalities for women. It uses a feminist view to discuss theories for working with female addicts and the social and biological factors that impact addictions and their successful treatment.

  • Butler, Robert N., and Myrna I. Lewis. 2002. The new love and sex after 60. 2d ed. New York: Ballantine.

    Although this book was first published in the 1970s, for that time it provided a clear understanding of how older adults, love, and sex were connected. This revised text includes new findings about older adults that have come to light since the book’s first edition. Includes a section on same-sex love and relationships.

  • Doll, Gayle Appel. 2012. Sexuality and long-term care: Understanding and supporting the needs of older adults. Baltimore, MD: Health Professions Press.

    This book concisely discusses sexual intimacy of older adults in long-term care facilities. By using vignettes with each chapter, the experiences of older adults are discussed in an insightful manner giving clarity to how and why people in long-term care develop relationships.

  • Higgins, Stephen T., Kenneth Silverman, and Sarah H. Heil, eds. 2008. Contingency management in substance abuse treatment. New York: Guilford.

    Contingency management is a treatment modality that appears to be quite useful in the arena of substance abuse. The book provides applications for practice with and interventions for substance-abusing populations. Special groups, such as pregnant and postpartum women, are discussed. Economics, funding, and community issues are thoroughly presented.

  • Makadon, Harvey, Ken Mayer, Hilary Goldhammer, and Jennifer Potter. 2008. The Fenway guide to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender health. Philadelphia: American College of Physicians.

    This textbook deals with physical health, mental health, and legal issues of populations who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT). It is the first American medical textbook dedicated to LGBT health. It provides a clinical perspective and uses the life-span focus so useful in social work.

  • Oliver, Michael, Bob Sapey, and Pam Thomas. 2012. Social work with disabled people. 4th ed. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

    This revised edition provides a thorough discussion about the roles of social workers in policy and practice concerning the disabled population in the United Kingdom. It presents the current state of social work in the disabilities arena by addressing independent and community-living issues, as well as social policy and legal considerations.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.