Date of Conferral



Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work


Dr. Debora S. Rice


In the social work profession, there is a lack of understanding related to increasingly rapid readmission rates at inpatient psychiatric units. Medical social workers have a vital role in the discharge planning process. Clients readmitted to an inpatient facility within 30 days of discharge have a significant impact on the social work profession. The research question examined medical social workers’ perceptions of the risk factors and challenges associated with rapid psychiatric readmission and how effective discharge planning could address the risk factors and challenges. The purpose for this action research study was to obtain social workers’ perspectives into risk factors associated with increasing rapid readmission rates among inpatient psychiatric facilities. Systems theory informed the research by explaining various factors that influence human behavior. Using action research, a focus group of 5 medical social workers with experience working on an inpatient psychiatric unit discussed the research questions related to their work experience. Data analysis consisted of descriptive and in vivo coding protocols. Key findings revealed 4 themes that provide understanding of how effective discharge planning could address the risk factors and challenges. The themes were: (a) client-related risk factors, (b) external risk factors, (c) discharge planning barriers, and (d) bridging gaps in care. Strategies that contribute to the overall social work knowledge included enhanced care through support systems, advocating for client needs, and comprehensive case management. Implications for positive social change involve continuous advocacy to promote the general welfare of vulnerable populations on micro, mezzo, and macro levels.

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