Advocacy in Healthcare Settings

Sunday, January 18, 2015: 10:00 AM-11:45 AM
La Galeries 6, Second Floor (New Orleans Marriott)
Cluster: Health and Disability
Symposium Organizer:
Bruce S. Jansson, PhD, University of Southern California
The social work profession engaged in advocacy in health settings from its origins. The first social worker hired at Massachusetts General Hospital, Garnet Pelton, was asked by her supervising physician to criticize existing practices and to provide patients with advocacy, for example.  Yet scant research exists about the extent and nature of patient advocacy or policy advocacy by social workers, as well as nurses and medical residents who provide “frontline care” to patients, despite the fact that Codes of Ethics require these professionals to engage in advocacy.

This symposium discusses key findings of a research project funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) titled “Improving Healthcare Outcomes Through Advocacy” that gathered quantitative data from social workers, nurses, and medical residents, as well as qualitative data from patients and administrators in eight acute care hospitals in Los Angeles County. These findings are organized into five papers.  Professor Bruce Jansson, Research Associate Lei Duan, and Post-Doctoral Research Associate Gretchen Heidemann will discuss how the project validated a patient advocacy engagement scale that measures healthcare professionals’ engagement in patient advocacy.  They will also discuss findings of a multiple regression analysis that examines to what extent variables such as healthcare professionals’ ethical commitment to advocacy, their patient advocacy skills, and the organizational climate are associated with their actual advocacy engagement.  Post-Doctoral Research Associate Heidemann will compare patient advocacy engagement between members of the three professions (social workers, nurses, and medical residents).  Doctoral student Melissa Bird will examine to what extent these health professionals engage in policy advocacy as well as predictive factors using OLS regression analysis.  Assistant Professor Judy DeBonis will present qualitative data gathered from 30 hospital administrators and patients that sheds light on differences in the conceptualization and definition of the term advocacy between these groups, and their efforts to comprehensively address patient problems in a changing healthcare system.  Taken together, these papers provide important quantitative and qualitative data about the extent and nature of advocacy in acute-care hospitals, as well as offers tools to measure healthcare professionals’ engagement in advocacy.  Additional research on advocacy is needed in healthcare, including in outpatient settings, hospice, nursing homes, and communities.

* noted as presenting author
Recognizing Advocacy Needs and Actions in Hospital Care: Patient and Administrator Insights
Judith Anne DeBonis, PhD, California State University, Northridge
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