How social workers understand “Person in situation”: research concerning mothers with HIV

David Harrison


In the process of assessment, it is important for social workers to understand the normative characteristics and social processes that are likely to happen when people confront social and medical problems. It is at least as important to work in partnership with people to construct a shared understanding of the person in his or her situation. This study presents an example of how practitioners developed this type of understanding from the literature and their own practice. It was begun in the early days of the HIV epidemic in the USA. The results contrasted with the findings in the literature, both in substance and in form. This finding is important to illustrate how practitioners can put assessment into action in the rapidly developing social work profession in Lithuania. The increase in HIV infections puts the region at a point where the USA was at the time original data were collected. Thus, there are parallels that can be helpful in beginning to understand and to find ways to work with people affected by the virus and related social phenomena.


HIV; assessment; theory; qualitative; social construction

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"Social Work" ISSN online 2029-2775 / ISSN print 1648-4789