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Exploring health social work practitioners' experiences in working with health practitioners within a multidisciplinary healthcare setting.

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This article explores how social work practitioners work with health practitioners within a multidisciplinary team. This was a moment for health social work practitioners to deliberate about themselves regarding their experiences in working with health practitioners. The research focused on how health professionals work, communicate, and learn together. The research is vital in attempting to comprehend social workers' encounters in working with health professionals, the understanding of their roles and the professional boundaries in the multidisciplinary team. The literature revealed that social workers are frequently identified as non-essential experts in this host setting, where professional competence, control, including respect remain centred around doctors. The qualitative research approach consisting of the combination of an exploratory and descriptive research design was adopted for this study. A purposeful sampling technique was used to select the participants from health facilities who fall under the King Cetshwayo Health District Forum. Study permission was granted by the District Manager and the ethical permission was secured from the Provincial Health Research and Ethics Committee and the Humanities and Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee, respectively. Semi-structured telephonic interviews were held with 16 participants. All the participants were full-time public health employees and were mostly females. The interview schedule was piloted with three participants who then gave feedback regarding the questions. The data was analysed using thematic analysis and three themes emerged from this process. The three main themes can be summarised as professional power dynamics, a lack of collaborative efforts, and a lack of understanding of the social work profession. The study concluded that social work practitioners perceived the overall collaboration as positive. However, concerns were raised regarding the existence of power dynamics that hindered collaboration.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.