Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Study Type

Mixed methods


School for Social Work


Medical social work, Maternity nursing, Social work in health care hospitals, Social work practice, Interdisciplinary collaboration, Nurse social work dynamic, Social work and nursing roles, Barriers to effective partnerships


Despite increased research on the misconceptions of social work, further investigation is needed to explore the impact of such attitudes on specific practice settings, including their effects on interdisciplinary collaborations. In an effort to help address this gap in research, this study explored the dynamics of social workers’ and nurses’ interactions using labor and delivery units as a lens. In this mixed method study, 71 participants, comprised of both nursing and social work professions completed an online survey inquiring how each profession views its own roles, that of the other profession, and factors that influence collaborations, if they occur at all. Participants from both groups identified key elements influencing the interdisciplinary relationship. Of all the factors that affect collaborative practice, perceptions of roles seemed to be the most significant. Findings showed that many nurses feel they are able to provide the same services as social workers and typically have more power in the relationship. Also of significance, the results indicated that knowledge about particular skills and/or training of the other discipline may not necessarily support effective interdisciplinary collaboration. Rather, the ability to build genuine relationships with colleagues reduced the potential for hostility because understandings of roles were mutually constructed. However, participants also noted that this is an ongoing process and that these opportunities are declining as a result of the current health care system. Hypotheses for further inquiry and implications for such findings are offered.




iv, 74 pages. M.S.W., Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Ma., 2016. Includes bibliographical references (pages 61-64)

Included in

Social Work Commons