"Confidentiality in social work", the professional secret or the profession's secret?: a study of social workers' knowledge of and attitudes toward confidentiality

Morris, Richard Joseph (1988) "Confidentiality in social work", the professional secret or the profession's secret?: a study of social workers' knowledge of and attitudes toward confidentiality. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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While some research about confidentiality in social work has been undertaken, this study is believed to be the first which explores what social workers actually know about confidentiality Eighty-seven social workers in St. John’s, Newfoundland, responded to a questionnaire designed to measure their ability to discern violations of confidentiality in hypothetical situations. – The results of the study indicate that the social workers studied had deficits in their knowledge about confidentiality. Further, the respondents displayed overconfidence about their knowledge, being significantly more confident than they were correct. The evidence demonstrates a positive relationship between education and ability to make correct decisions with regard to the vignettes. – The major concern emanating from this study is that in balancing the right of the individual to privacy with often competing societal interests, social workers make unnecessary errors on both sides because they lack existing knowledge to guide their decision-making. The results have negative implications for the social worker – client relationship in terms of trust, and the development of the profession itself as relates to ethics. This is of particular relevance in Canada, where the profession of social work is attempting to assert its status with some vigor. The results of this study are a pointed indication of the need for better training in the principles underlying confidentiality and their application in practice. It is only with improved knowledge of confidentiality that the social work profession’s secret, namely, that little is clearly understood by many social workers about confidentiality, can be transformed to its desired status of the professional secret so as to protect the interests of individuals and of society.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/11082
Item ID: 11082
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 59-66.
Department(s): Social Work, School of
Date: 1988
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Social workers--Professional ethics.

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