Keywords: Hospital Social Work; Inter-Professional Practice; Professional Cultures; Professional Power; Social Work in Medical Settings.
Social work in hospital setting has a long history; research has shown its value, but at the same time has revealed how it has always been fraught with tensions and contradictions. Providing room for social work in hospital derives from a view of illness and health as connected to social as well as physical factors. Empirical evidence, though, shows how often social work is underutilized, or not properly considered. This paper is based on a qualitative study in South Tyrol which has allowed to identify both elements that could constitute a good base for inter-professional practice, such as an acknowledged need of social intervention on the side of the medical professions, but also several points of friction between professions as well as strategies for facing them.