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Practising ethically during Covid-19: social work challenges and responses

Banks, S.; Cai, T.; de Jonge, E.; Shears, J.; Shum, M.; Sobočan, A.M.; Strom, K.; Truell, R.; Úriz, M.J.; Weinberg, M.

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T. Cai

E. de Jonge

J. Shears

M. Shum

A.M. Sobočan

K. Strom

R. Truell

M.J. Úriz

M. Weinberg


This article draws on findings of an international study of social workers’ ethical challenges during COVID-19, based on 607 responses to a qualitative survey. Ethical challenges included the following: maintaining trust, privacy, dignity and service user autonomy in remote relationships; allocating limited resources; balancing rights and needs of different parties; deciding whether to break or bend policies in the interests of service users; and handling emotions and ensuring care of self and colleagues. The article considers regional contrasts, the ‘ethical logistics’ of complex decision-making, the impact of societal inequities, and lessons for social workers and professional practice around the globe.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 23, 2020
Online Publication Date Aug 20, 2020
Publication Date Sep 1, 2020
Deposit Date Jul 23, 2020
Publicly Available Date Aug 21, 2020
Journal International Social Work
Print ISSN 0020-8728
Electronic ISSN 1461-7234
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 63
Issue 5
Pages 569-583
Public URL


Published Journal Article (Advance online version) (260 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
Advance online version This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (

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