Social work, mental health and substance use: a scoping review

Camille Benson, Jacqueline Jane Cameron, Julaine Allan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose: Integrated care approaches have been recommended for co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders. The purpose of this study is to explore and map the research literature regarding social work and its intersection with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders. 

Design/methodology/approach: An iterative and systematic search of five electronic databases CINAHL, Scopus, PsycINFO, Social Science Database and Medline was conducted to identify studies published between 2002 and 2022. Two reviewers independently screened publications in two successive stages of title and abstract screening, followed by a full-text screening of eligible studies. Data from each included publication were screened and extracted using Covidence. 

Findings: A total of 38 eligible studies were included in the final scoping review. The included studies were conducted in eight different counties, including a range of study designs (e.g. cross-sectional, RCT, pilot studies). Only 8 of the 38 studies included people with co-occurring disorders as participants. Study settings were broad, for example, dual-diagnosis, military, homeless, substance use and community-based settings. 

Originality/value: A review of the literature surrounding social work practice and its intersection with co-occurring mental health and Alcohol and other drug was warranted to document the evidence on this largely unexplored area of research. This review found that there was a paucity of literature that focused specifically on the role of social work practice in relation to individuals with co-occurring disorders, with a limited number of studies focusing on dual diagnoses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-85
Number of pages15
JournalAdvances in Dual Diagnosis
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2023


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