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P90 Implementation of strategies for fostering strengths-based adult social work in the UK: a systematic review of research evidence
  1. Anna Price1,
  2. Latika Ahuja1,
  3. Charlotte Bramwell1,
  4. Simon Briscoe1,
  5. Liz Shaw1,
  6. Michael Nunns1,
  7. Gareth O’Rouke2,
  8. Samantha Baron3,
  9. Rob Anderson1
  1. 1HSDR Evidence Synthesis Centre, University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter, UK
  2. 2Institute of Health Research, University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter, UK
  3. 3Department of Social Care and Social Work, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK


Background A ‘strengths-based approach’ focusses on peoples’ goals and resources rather than their problems. Social care professionals and organisations are striving to practise in a strengths-based way, especially since the Care Act of 2014. However, challenges remain in implementing strengths-based approaches into practise, and uncertainty remains about their effectiveness. This systematic review aimed to summarise research evidence on the effectiveness and the implementation of different strengths-based approaches within adult social work in the UK.

Methods We searched seven databases: MEDLINE ALL, PsycINFO, Social Policy and Practice, HMIC, CINAHL, ASSIA and the Campbell Library. Supplementary web searches were conducted. No date or language limits were used. Eligible studies were about adults (≥18 years) being supported or assessed by social workers; or initiatives involving adult social care teams. For the effectiveness question, outcomes could be directly related to individual outcomes or outcomes at the level of families or communities. The Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool was chosen to appraise the quality of effectiveness studies, and qualitative implementation studies were assessed using the Wallace criteria. Findings were tabulated and analysed using framework synthesis. Studies that were not synthesised were summarised descriptively.

Results Of 5,030 studies screened, none met our inclusion criteria for the effectiveness question. Fifteen qualitative or mixed methods studies met criteria for the implementation question, six were assessed as ‘good quality’. Seven examined Making Safeguarding Personal (MSP) and the remaining eight studies examined Local Area Coordination, Solution Focused Therapy, Family Group Conferencing, Asset-based Community Development, Strengths-based with Relationship-based Approach, Asset-based approaches, and Motivational Interviewing. Studies on Making Safeguarding Personal (MSP), were synthesised into the following themes of implementation factors: 1) MSP as an intervention: seen as initially demanding but with long-term advantages. 2) Culture and Settings: required broad cultural changes; ‘outward facing’ and smaller/specialist councils tended to find this easier. 3) Individual characteristics: related to enhancing the knowledge, skills and confidence of practitioner and stakeholders in MSP; and service user willingness to engage. 4) Embedding and sustaining MSP: depended on strong leadership and active engagement at all levels. For the remaining eight studies of seven strengths-based approaches, we provide a summary of findings.

Discussion There is a lack of good quality research evidence evaluating the effectiveness or implementation of strengths-based approaches. The synthesis revealed a wide range of factors that enabled or inhibited successful implementation of Making Safeguarding Personal. These may have wider relevance for implementation of other strengths-based models of social work practice.

  • Strengths-based approach
  • social work
  • systematic review

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