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Social work’s scope of practice in the provision of primary mental health care: protocol for a scoping review
  1. Rachelle Ashcroft1,
  2. Toula Kourgiantakis1,
  3. Judith Belle Brown2,3
  1. 1Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  2. 2Department of Family Medicine, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University, London, Canada
  3. 3School of Social Work, King’s University College, London, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rachelle Ashcroft; rachelle.ashcroft{at}


Introduction Social work is a key member of interprofessional primary healthcare teams and foundational to primary healthcare reforms that aim to improve the provision of mental healthcare. Little is known, however, about social work’s scope of practice within primary healthcare settings, particularly in the provision of mental healthcare. The objective of this study is to identify and describe social work’s scope of practice as it relates to mental healthcare in primary healthcare settings.

Methods and analysis A scoping review will be conducted using the methodology established by Arksey and O’Malley. We will search electronic databases (MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Social Services Abstracts and Social Work Abstracts) to identify studies appropriate for inclusion. One reviewer will independently screen all abstracts and full-text studies for inclusion, with supervision by lead investigator. We will include any study that focuses on social work and mental healthcare within primary healthcare settings. All bibliographic data, study characteristics and range of social work practice activities will be collected and analysed using a tool developed by the research team.

Ethics and dissemination The scoping review will synthesise social work’s scope of practice in the provision of mental healthcare within primary healthcare settings. This review will be the first step to formally develop guidelines for social work practice in primary healthcare. The results will be disseminated through a peer-reviewed publication and conference presentations.

  • primary care
  • mental health

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  • Contributors RA, TK and JBB conceptualised and designed the study. RA wrote the initial study protocol, which was then revised by TK and JBB. RA took the lead and compiled revisions. RA, TK and JBB approved the final protocol manuscript and agreed to be accountable to all aspects of the work.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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