Role changes of hospital social workers in South Korea

Seok In Nam, Kwonho Choi, Junpyo Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The roles of social workers in hospitals have changed in accordance with the environmental changes in the healthcare system. Since 1958, hospital social workers have performed important roles in providing care services in South Korea. Providing psychosocial services was considered to be the most important for more than 30 years from the 1970s to the 1990s. The healthcare system has since undergone major environmental changes, yet there has been little study on the role of hospital social workers in South Korea. In order to address this research gap, this study aims to explore how the roles of hospital social workers have changed since the 2000s. We recruited 198 hospital social workers who were active members of the Korean Association of Medical Social Workers as study participants. The average age of participants was 35.36 years old (SD = 8.27), and they had an average of 8.24 years in hospital social work experience (SD = 6.35). The results indicated that the roles of financial support and community resource linkage, which were regarded to be relatively less important until the 1990s, were recognized as the most important. Given the role changes of hospital social workers in South Korea, implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703-717
Number of pages15
JournalSocial Work in Health Care
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Aug 9

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by Research Fund of Korean Association of Medical Social Workers.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Taylor & Francis.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Community and Home Care
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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