Social Workers in Pediatric Oncology: A Qualitative Study in Iranian Context

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Department of Social Work, University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

2 Clinical Research Development Center of Panzdah-e Khordad Hospital, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences,Tehran, Iran.

3 Emergency and Disaster Health Department and Research Center in Emergency and Disaster Health, University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

4 Member of National Academy of Medical Sciences National coordinator, Tehran, Iran.


Background: As professionals, social workers have a special position in relation to considering the needs of
children with cancer and their families. Hence, it is important to recognize the experiences and challenges of social
workers to improve care of their clients. Method: This study was a qualitative content analysis that aimed to determine
a comprehensive understanding of pediatric oncology social workers’ experiences in Iran. In total, 19 social workers
participated in the study. A purposeful sampling method was applied until reaching data saturation. Data were collected
using semi-structured interviews and field observations. Then, the gathered data were analyzed through face content
analysis. The study lasted from 2015 to 2017. Finding: Concepts extracted from social workers’ experiences consisted
of the nature of oncology work, lack of professional competence, low organizational support and professional inferiority
that were related to main concept of “exhausting and stressful service”. The results indicated that social workers’
involvement in stressful and emotionally demanding situations and facing with professional and organizational
challenges caused personal exhaustion. Conclusion: In addition to explaining the social workers’ experiences and
related factors, the results emphasize the importance of taking care of service providers to prevent them becoming
stressed and exhausted. It is also important to protect patients from the consequences of stressed and exhausted care
providers so further research is recommended to develop specific intervention.


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