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Social Work and Disasters Systematic Literature Review

There is a tremendous wealth of research internationally which has explored the intersection of social work and disaster interventions through the case study of specific disasters including both environmental and (hu)man-made disasters such as, climate change, terror attacks, extreme weather events, health pandemics and poverty. However, until now there has not been a systematic literature review of the resources in this substantive area, including the grey literature used by social work practitioners, that specifically explores social workers’ roles undertaken during disasters. Therefore, under the backdrop of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, the British Association of Social Work (BASW) England commissioned a systematic review of all the relevant literature relating to social work during disasters, mapped against its guidelines designed for social workers providing emergency support and interventions.

This Report starts by outlining the methodological approach used to define the research questions before summarising the systematic method of data collection employed throughout, including a justification of the exclusion and inclusion criteria used for the review. Following this, the findings and conclusions of the relevant resources gathered through the systematic literature search are consolidated under the six key themes identified: disaster mitigation strategies; the roles of social workers in recovery; supporting socially vulnerable groups; community engagement; a social justice, rights-based approach to disaster intervention; and self-care for social workers. A further section of the review collates all lessons learned within the reviewed literature and applies them to UK specific disasters to allow for an examination of existing practice within UK country specific disaster settings. The final section concludes the Report and maps key articles against the BASW CPD Guidance on Social Work Roles During Disasters.