Using risk factor statistics in decision making: prospects and challenges

Lene M Søbjerg, Brian Taylor, Jaroslaw Przeperski, Saša Horvat, Hani Nouman, Denise Harvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
118 Downloads (Pure)


Society expects social workers and other professionals to use the best available knowledge in making decisions. Statistical (numerical) data are rapidly becoming an increasing part of the repertoire of knowledge available to professionals. However, social workers can at times seem reluctant to use statistics to inform their judgement processes when considering the assessment and seriousness of risk factors. This paper explores and considers the potential use of statistical methods in understanding risk factors. Potentials of using statistics include reducing variability in human judgements, increasing accuracy and reducing human bias. When contemplating these potentials, it is important to consider ethical issues, legal and organisational issues as well as technical issues. Acknowledging that potentials and challenges need to be weighed, it is imperative that the profession engages in the development of adequate statistical methods to improve the knowledge and skill base for social work in the best interests of clients and families.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)788-801
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Work
Issue number5
Early online date11 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished online - 11 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Decision-making
  • decision-support systems
  • risk assessment
  • risk factors
  • statistics


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