Describing the exepriences of social workers in a tertiary ED.

Grant ID: EMSS-226R24-2015

Lay Summary

The Department of Emergency Medicine at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital is a large department that includes a team of social workers. This team is available on-site 24/7. RBWH is the only facility in Queensland that has a 24/7 on-site social work service, and to date, no research has been conducted to explain the evolution of this service, its implications for the social work team, and for DEM more broadly.

This study involves a qualitative analysis of the experiences of this social work team, based on information provided during interviews.

Presentations to ED requiring engagement of clinicians and social workers have been increasing in recent years. The reasons for these increases are many and varied, including increasing substance abuse related presentations. DEM at RBWH is in the unique position of being the only facility in Queensland that provides 24/7 on-site social work coverage and 1 of only 3 facilities across the nation that provide this level of service. To date, there has been no research to investigate how this service has evolved to cater for the increasing demands placed on it.

This is the first phase of research which will inform future research including measures such as compassion fatigue and burnout amongst this group.


Outcomes of interest include a description of the contribution of emergency department social workers and qualitative analysis of the challenges social workers face.
Based on these results, recommendations to facilitate engagement between clinicians and social workers will be developed.


Amount Awarded


Grant Scheme


Principal Investigator:
Dr Alexandra Markwell

Co Investigators:
Ms Tegwen Howell
A/Prof Carol Windsor

Associate Investigators:
A/Prof Anthony Bell
A/Prof Kevin Chu
Ms Angela O'Malia


Collaborating Institutions

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