Practising ethically during COVID-19: Social work challenges and responses

Authors Sarah Banks , Tian Cai , Ed de Jonge , Jane Shears , Michelle Shum , Ana M. Sobočan , Kim Strom , Rory Truell , Maria Jesús Úriz , Merlinda Weinberg
Published in International Social Work
Publication date 1 August 2020
Research groups Innovative Social Services
Type Article


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.

On this publication contributed

  • Ed de Jonge | Researcher | Innovative Social Services
    Ed de Jonge
    • Researcher
    • Research groups: Innovative Social Services

Language English
Published in International Social Work
Year and volume 63 5
Key words covid-19, ethical logistics, Ethics, inequities, pandemic, Social work
Digital Object Identifier
Page range 569-583

Innovative Social Services