Public Health Social Work as a Unifying Framework for Social Work’s Grand Challenges


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Introduced in 2013 by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, the Grand Challenges for Social Work (GCSW) implicitly embrace a public health perspective. However, the lack of a specific overarching conceptual framework creates a challenge for moving the GCSW from concept to practice. In this article, authors propose that public health social work (PHSW) provides a unifying framework for moving the GCSW from concept to practice. Authors undertook a review of the literature, including a review of published literature and all Web sites and other Web materials focused on the GCSW. Three GCSW were selected to illustrate the utility of PHSW and the social work health impact model (SWHIM): (1) stopping family violence, (2) eradicating social isolation, and (3) achieving opportunity and justice. Using a wide-lens PHSW approach, the illustrations focus on actions that can influence populations through strengthened environments and multilevel interventions. The public health field reflects the rigorous science behind the theoretical models, community-based approaches, and attention to effects of social determinants of health at the population level. Because health and inequalities are the focus of many of the GCSW, incorporating both public and population health, together with the SWHIM, can help provide structure to achieve collective goals.

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