Social Work Interventions in Health & Aging: Evidence for Effectiveness
The specific aim of this symposium is to provide evidence for the efficacy and efficiency of social work services in health and aging at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels in order to contribute to the important national conversations that are occurring about health care reform decisions. The first paper sets the stage by presenting the results of a meta-analysis focused on social work interventions in aging and health. The paper calls for rigorous research to examine the differential impact of social work on the health and psychosocial outcomes of older adults (Rizzo & Rowe). Papers two (Golden & Krajci) and three (Gould, Bronstein et al.) report the positive and significant results of two studies that examine social work interventions in areas of significance to ACA: care coordination and the integration of psychosocial factors in patient centered medical homes and discharge planning to reduce hospital readmission rates. The fourth, and final, paper examines an ACA patient navigator program at a school of social welfare. The research design emphasizes the examination of state level policy factors (such as Medicaid expansion, federal or state exchange, laws passed prohibiting Navigators) that influence enrollment at a population level (Warner & Smith). Taken together, the papers in this symposium provide evidence to support the value of social work services in health and aging in this time of significant health care reform. The symposium is timely given the implementation of the signature ACA regulation in 2014, the individual mandate, which contributes to the projected 23.3% increase in need for health care social workers by the year 2020.