Mental wellbeing and quality of working life in UK social workers before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: A propensity score matching study

Paula Mc Fadden, Ruth Neill, J. Mallett, Jill Manthorpe, Patricia Gillen, John Moriarty, Denise Currie, Heike Schroder, Jermaine Ravalier, Patricia Nicholl, Jana Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

During the COVID-19 pandemic interest into its potential impact on mental wellbeing has intensified. Within the social care sector, the pandemic has increased job demands and prolonged stress taking a disproportionate toll on the workforce, particularly social workers. The current paper compares the mental wellbeing and quality of working life of social workers in the United Kingdom (UK) before and during the pandemic. Data were collected in 2018 (N=1195) and 2020 (N=1024) using two cross-sectional surveys. To account for the differences between the datasets, propensity score matching was employed prior to effect estimation, utilising demographic and work-related variables common to both datasets. The differences between the two time-points were estimated using multiple regressions. Both mental wellbeing and quality of working life were significantly higher during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 compared to 2018. This suggests that during the highpoint of the pandemic in the UK, increased support, and changes to working practices, such as reprioritisation of work and other initiatives, may be responsible for increased mental wellbeing and quality of working life. While acknowledging the known pressures on UK social workers during the COVID-19 pandemic this evidence suggests a mixed picture of the pandemic with lessons for managers and employers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe British Journal of Social Work
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 6 Sep 2021

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