Social Worker

Role of the Social Worker in the Management of Rheumatic Diseases


The social worker (SW) offers a broad range of psychosocial services ranging from emotional support to referrals for community resources that can assist in enhancing quality of life and adaptation to acute and chronic rheumatic conditions.

What Does the Social Worker Do?

The psychosocial assessment provides the basis for the SW’s intervention. This assessment includes evaluation of the patient’s resources, strengths, and support systems, such as:

  • Education level
  • Employment
  • Family support
  • Financial situation
  • Impact of illness
  • Leisure interests
  • Living arrangements
  • Past coping behaviors

The SW also addresses the patient’s emotional response and reaction to the diagnosis of a rheumatic illness, including:

  • Emotional and financial impact of the disease on the family
  • Effect on a patient’s relationships and roles
  • Other personal or social problems that might have an impact on their illness

Additional roles of the SW include:

  • Providing information about psychosocial issues to the rest of the team that can guide health care professionals in their treatment, management, and interaction with the patient
  • Guiding the patient to help negotiate the health care system more effectively
  • Designing counseling interventions to maximize personal and social resources in dealing with the acute and long-term issues of managing a chronic rheumatic disease
  • Fostering the return to functional independence by identifying community resources (e.g., finances, medical insurance programs, home care, transportation, and community service organizations) that can meet their environmental, personal, or interpersonal needs
  • Involvement in program planning, evaluation, and research

Where Does the Social Worker Work?

  • Hospitals
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Community mental health centers
  • Schools
  • Family and community service agencies
  • Home care departments
  • Extended care facilities
  • Private practice settings

What Kind of Training Does a Social Worker Have?

SWs may have a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree, and most states require licensure for practice. National credentialing programs for advanced practice include the National Academy of Social Workers and Board-Certified Diplomat in Clinical Social Work.

This information is provided for general education only. Individuals should consult a qualified health care provider for professional medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment of a medical or health condition.

We use cookies on our website to improve our service to you and for security purposes. By continuing to use our site without changing your browser cookie settings, you agree to our cookie policy and the use of cookies. See ACR Policies