Disaster preparedness in social work: A scoping review of evidence for future research, theory and practice

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The aim of this study was to understand the extent and nature of social work literature relating to preparedness in the context of natural disasters and to identify the implications for further research, theory and practice. A systematic scoping review explored scholarly databases pertaining to literature about social work and disaster preparedness, between 2000 and 2019; a total of thirty-nine articles met the inclusion criteria. Data were extracted from these articles to map the range and type of literature, and thematic analysis was undertaken to explore aspects of preparedness in greater depth. Analysis revealed a recurring theme regarding the need to foreground preparedness in social work and disaster practice along with recommendations that preparedness be more consistently enacted as an ongoing, localised, dynamic, and dialogic process in order to better respond to a diverse range of community needs. Building on these findings, the authors highlight the need to challenge dominant discourses in social work and extend the conceptualisation of the profession in the context of disasters at both the intra- and inter-professional levels. By drawing on transformative, ecosocial approaches, the profession’s contributions to disaster practice, equity and justice in this complex context of global practice can gain visibility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1623-1643
Number of pages21
JournalThe British Journal of Social Work
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2021


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