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The Sage Handbook of Decision Making, Assessment and Risk in Social Work

The Sage Handbook of Decision Making, Assessment and Risk in Social Work

Edited by:

August 2023 | 656 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

The Sage Handbook of Decision Making, Assessment and Risk in Social Work provides a comprehensive overview of key strands of research and theoretical concepts in this increasingly important field.

With 49 chapters and four section summaries, this Handbook describes the ‘state of the art’; discusses key debates and issues; and gives pointers on future directions for practice, research, teaching, management of services, and development of theoretical understandings.

A key aim of this Handbook is to support the development of sound, applied knowledge and values to underpin reasoned professional judgement and decision making by social workers in practice and those in management and regulatory roles.

With contributions from a global interdisciplinary body of leading and emerging scholars from a wide variety of roles, this handbook has been designed to be internationally generalisable and applicable to all major areas of social work.

This Handbook provides a field-defining account of decision making, assessment and risk in social work which is unrivalled for its diversity and strength of coverage, and will be of value to social work researchers, teachers and practitioners, as well as to those in allied fields such as health care.

Section 1: Professional Judgement

Section 2: Assessment, Risk and Decision Processes

Section 3: Assessment Tools and Approaches

Section 4: Developing and Managing Practice

Section 5: Concluding Section / Afterword

Annamaria Campanini
Brian J Taylor
Introduction to the Handbook
Section 1: Professional Judgement
Emily Keddell & Aron Shlonsky
Introduction to Section One
Sub-section A: Heuristics& Biases

Trevor Spratt
Chapter 1: Confirmation bias in social work
Alessandro Sicora
Chapter 2. Blame & emotion in professional judgement
Martin Kettle
Chapter 3: The influence of optimism on analysis in professional judgement
Jacob Magnussen & Annemette Matthiesen
Chapter 4: Heuristics in professional judgement: between proximity & distance
Sub-section B: Professional Judgment in Context

Tracie Mafile’o, Jean Mitaera & Halaevalu Vakalahi
Chapter 5: Collective cultures, risk, and individual judgement
David Hodgson,Lynelle Watts & Donna Chung
Chapter 6: Social & relational contexts of professional judgement in organisations
Sub-section C: Knowledge Use in Judgement Processes

Laura Cook
Chapter 7: . Intuition in social work practice
Paul McCafferty
Chapter 8: Challenges to using knowledge (evidence) in professional judgement
Eileen Gambrill
Chapter 9: Critical thinking and professional judgement
Sub-section D: Discretion & Reasoning

Duncan Helm
Chapter 10: Sense making in professional judgement
Christian Ghanem & Joel Gautschi
Chapter 11: Theories of professional judgement
Sub-section E: Prospects & Developments

Joel Gautschi & Christian Ghanem
Chapter 12: Methods for studying professional judgement in social work
Section 2: Assessment, Risk and Decision Process
Campbell Killick
Introduction to Section Two
Sub-section A: Contextual Aspects of Decision Making and Working with Risk

Prospera Tedam
Chapter 13: Cultural aspects of assessment and decision-making processes
Michael Preston-Shoot
Chapter 14: Legally-literate decision making and management of risk in social work
Ravit Alfandari, Jaroslaw Przeperski & Brian J Taylor
Chapter 15: Interprofessional decision making
Mark Gregory
Chapter 16: Decision making in organisational contexts
Colin Pritchard & Richard Williams
Chapter 17: Assessment and risk: recognising the circularity of child-adverse-events and psychiatric disorders in children and adults
Sub-section B: Engaging Children and Families in Assessment and Decision Processes

Lorna Montgomery, Mandi MacDonald & Eddy J Walakira
Chapter 18: Engaging client families in assessment and managing risks
Janne Fengler & Peter Schäfer
Chapter 19: Engaging children in assessment and decisions
Mónica López López, Leo Wieldraaiher-Vincent & Mijntje ten Brummelaar
Chapter 20: Reimagining participation of young people in decision making in contexts of vulnerability
Sub-section C: Engaging Adults in Assessment and Decision Processes

Gavin Davidson, Katherine Greer, Aodán Mulholland & Paul Webb
Chapter 21: Engaging adults in the assessment
Anna Olaison & Sarah Donnelly
Chapter 22: Shared decision making with clients
Jim Campbell & Ross Campbell
Chapter 23: Decisional capacity in mental health social work
Hazel Kemshall
Chapter 24: Risk, desistance and engagement: working with adult service users in Probation
Sub-section D: Prospects & Developments

Campbell Killick & Brian J Taylor
Chapter 25: Studying risk-managing, decision-making & assessment processes
Section 3: Assessment Tools and Approaches
John D Fluke & J Christopher Graham
Introduction to Section Three
Sub-section A: Foundations of Assessment Tools & Predicting Harm

J Christopher Graham & John D Fluke
Chapter 26: Foundations of valid assessment
J Christopher Graham & Doug Klinman
Chapter 27: From validity to validation and beyond
Julie L Crouch & Joel S Milner
Chapter 28: Standardized risk assessment tools: methods, development & applications
Sub-section B: Assessment and the Use of Tools

Kresta M Sørensen
Chapter 29: Implementing assessments using structured tools
Pascal Bastian & Mark Schrödter
Chapter 30: Decision aids, decision supports and managing risk
Donald C Bross & Henry Plum
Chapter 31: Legal aspects of decision-making processes in social work
Kelly G Stepura
Chapter 32: Data visualization as an assessment tool
Sub-section C: Approaches to Assessment

Beth Coulthard & Brian J Taylor
Chapter 33: Big data analytics for making decisions and managing risk
Emily Keddell
Chapter 34: The devil in the detail: algorithmic risk prediction tools and their implications for ethics, justice and decision making
Beth Coulthard
Chapter 35: Natural language processing: opportunities and challenges
Emmaline Houston, Barbara Fallon & John D Fluke
Chapter 36: Understanding risk through social epidemiology
Section 4: Developing and Managing Practice
Andrew Whittaker
Introduction to Section Four
Sub-section A: Learning & Teaching Decision Making

David Saltiel
Chapter 37: Complexity and troublesome knowledge: teaching decision-making in social work
Cheryl Regehr
Chapter 38: Improving high-risk decision-making in situations of risk and uncertainty: the role of deliberate attention
Sub-section B: Continuing Professional Development

Louise O’Connor & Kate Leonard
Chapter 39: Developing professional expertise: transitions and thresholds in complex organisational contexts
Danielle Turney & Gillian Ruch
Chapter 40: The contribution of reflective practice to developing professional judgement and decision-making knowledge and skills
David Wilkins
Chapter 41: Supervising professional judgement
Sub-section C: Contextual & Organisational Aspects

David Carson & Judith Mullineux
Chapter 42: Accountability for risk decision-making in social care
Anne McGlade
Chapter 43: Getting evidence into organisations to support decision making and risk work
Jochen Devlieghere & Rudi Roose
Chapter 44: Accountability, management & professional discretion
Sub-section D: Managing Services in a Risk Context

Denise Harvey & Arlene P Weekes
Chapter 45: Managing risk and decision-making processes
Mary McColgan, Suzanne Cunnningham, James Laverty & Insa Osterhus
Chapter 46: Regulating risk in care services
Marian O’Rourke, Helen McVicker & Catherine Maguire
Chapter 47: Risk and regulation of the social care workforce
Sub-section E: Prospects & Developments

Joanne Hilder & Andrew Whittaker
Chapter 48: Studying the effectiveness of interventions to improve decision making and work with risk
Section 5: Concluding Section / Afterword
Janet Ananias, Rajendra Baikady & Vivian Lou
Chapter 49: Challenges in less developed welfare systems and professional contexts

Expert yet accessible, this Handbook interweaves research learning with experience.  While tuned to the social work profession, the authors' knowledge of assessment, decision making and risk will be of wider interest to other professionals and those supporting them. With contributions from 20 different countries the relevance of the subjects is clearly global. Drawing on a wide range of disciplines, this Handbook looks set to inspire new thinking and practice innovations.

Prof Jill Manthorpe, CBE
Emerita Professor of Social Work, King's College London, UK

Trevor Spratt opens the first chapter of The Sage Handbook of Decision Making, Assessment and Risk in Social Work with the phrase of being somewhat in awe of social workers decision-making abilities. I'm somewhat in awe too. Every day, social workers face challenges in decision-making by evaluating a complex interplay of risks and protective factors while lacking information for many of them. In this complex environment, humans are prone to using shortcuts and rules of thumb. Consequently, the authors of this Handbook not only present evidence on good practice, but also on biases and errors – combined with strategies to overcome these shortcomings.

Prof. Dr Andreas Jud
Zurich University of Applied Sciences, School of Social Work.

This impressive, well-structured, and extensively researched Handbook, edited by leading academics in the field, is a ‘must have’. The individual chapter contributions, written by key academics, researchers, practitioners, and professionals from wide-ranging backgrounds, explore current theories, research, and practice in an accessible and thought-provoking way. The lead editor, with a highly regarded reputation for agenda setting in this area, has succeeded in bringing into one volume an authoritative account of contemporary issues regarding risk, assessment and decision making in social work. Essential for students, academics and people in practice, the Handbook is guaranteed to stimulate new ways of understanding, thinking, and doing. 

Karen Winter
Professor of Children’s Social Care, Queen’s University Belfast, N Ireland.

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ISBN: 9781529790191

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