Bearing a Disproportionate Burden: Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Experiences of U.S.-Based Social Workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic

This article was originally published here

Soc Work. 2021 Nov 26:swab050. doi: 10.1093/sw/swab050. Online ahead of print.


While social workers have served as frontline workers responding to the needs of vulnerable populations during COVID-19 pandemic, little is known about how social work professionals themselves have been impacted. This article explored the impact of COVID-19 on social work professionals’ mental health, physical health, and access to personal protective equipment (PPE). This was a cross-sectional web-based survey of social workers practicing in the United States (N = 3,118); data on demographic and workplace characteristics, physical and mental health, and safety concerns were collected between June and August of 2020. Univariate statistics were used to characterize the sample. Ordinal logistic and multinomial regression were used to achieve the research aims. The majority of participants reported either moderate or severe concerns related to mental (55 percent) and physical (55 percent) health; 36 percent of respondents indicated concerns about PPE access. Respondents’ concerns differed by demographic (e.g., race, age) and workplace characteristics (e.g., setting, role, region). Social workers of color are experiencing COVID-19-related concerns of significantly greater severity relative to their White counterparts. Findings highlight an immediate need to deepen understanding of the factors that contribute to these trends and identify mechanisms to support the frontline social work workforce most impacted.

PMID:34850212 | DOI:10.1093/sw/swab050