Social work ethical decision making in an inter-disciplinary context

Kit Sum Syrine Yeung, Po Ying Amy Ho, Man Chun Hui Lo, Engle Angela Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


In order to strengthen social work students' competence in ethical reasoning, three inter-disciplinary seminars were organised in which a group of final-year social work and nursing undergraduates jointly discussed and reflected on ethical decision making. Both social work and nursing students respected a client's rights to make decisions and choices, but they attributed different priority to this ethical principle when it came to making decisions on which professional intervention was based. Social work students continued to regard self-determination as the primary principle, whereas nursing students made a shift in principle from autonomy to a duty to care. The differences in applying professional values are conceived as the result of a web of personal, cultural, professional and organisational features. It is suggested that both the theory and practice of social work ethical decision making can be advanced by more individual reflection grounded on a plurality of perspectives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1573-1590
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2010


  • duty of care
  • ethical decision making
  • ethical reasoning
  • self-determination
  • Social work education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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