The implicit contract: Implications for health social work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Identifying common patient dynamics is useful for developing social work practice sensitivity in health social work. This article draws on findings from a study of women who terminated desired pregnancies because of fetal anomalies and identifies dynamics that may be applicable to many health settings. Data suggest that women have expectations that submission to medical care, particularly high-tech medical care, should ensure a positive outcome-in this case a healthy baby. Analysis of data reveals the presence of an implicit contract that the women hold with the medical system, "Mother Nature," or society. The analysis carries an implication that health social work should help patients develop realistic expectations about health care. The presence of implicit contracts may have further implications for liability and litigation. Social work roles and interventions are addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-106
Number of pages8
JournalHealth and Social Work
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)


  • Contracting
  • Expectations
  • Physician-patient communication
  • Prenatal diagnosis
  • Technology

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