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Managing risk: social workers’ intervention strategies in cases of domestic abuse against people with learning disabilities

Robb, Megan, McCarthy, Michelle (2022) Managing risk: social workers’ intervention strategies in cases of domestic abuse against people with learning disabilities. Health, Risk and Society, . ISSN 1369-8575. (doi:10.1080/13698575.2022.2143169) (KAR id:97929)


Social workers in England are key professionals involved in addressing safeguarding concerns affecting adults with learning disabilities, including the risk of harm from domestic abuse. This article reports the findings from an empirical study conducted with 15 social workers who participated in a 2-stage interview process. The findings and discussion examine social workers’ approaches to risk management interventions in cases of domestic abuse against adults with learning disabilities. Informed by Beck’s Risk Society theory, our analysis finds that interventions often focus on individuals taking responsibility for managing risk, with either the victim or the social worker becoming the risk decision-maker. Furthermore, in carrying out their work, social workers used bureaucratic tasks to protect the organisation and individual decision-makers from blame. The article concludes with recommendations for practice which explores more holistic understandings of risk and which seeks to promote more collective responses to risk management.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/13698575.2022.2143169
Uncontrolled keywords: social work, risk, learning disabilities, domestic abuse
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Women
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research > Tizard
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Michelle McCarthy
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2022 11:20 UTC
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2022 12:27 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Robb, Megan.

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McCarthy, Michelle.

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