Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Michael Chovanec


Social Work


Social workers are involved in a variety of multidisciplinary teams in different settings, but the role social workers play in a multidisciplinary healthcare teams lacks clarity and consistency in research. The literature solidifies the notion that social workers utilize a broad perspective and are heavily relied upon to be a voice of reason in multidisciplinary teams (Patterson, 2004). In addition, the literature isolates role ambiguity and mistrust as the most common factors weakening teams in the work place. (Patterson & Pennefather, 2015); however, there is minimal qualitative research on how a social worker self-identifies as part of a multidisciplinary team in a medical setting. To begin this investigation, a systematic review was conducted to explore the role of a social worker in a multidisciplinary team including the barriers, challenges, and successes experienced. The findings uncovered themes of self-identity, role clarity, cultural competence, the importance of effective communication with patients and their families, power differentials among team members, and the difficulty social workers can have articulating their role to members of the team. This data points to the need for future research to further support the successful functioning of multidisciplinary teams. Teamwork is not only a key element in cost containment, effective care coordination, and accountable care organizations, but also a central component of quality social work practice and delivery.

Included in

Social Work Commons