Culture and medical social work practice in Saudi Arabia

Althumali, N., 2021. Culture and medical social work practice in Saudi Arabia. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

Nawaf Althumali 2021.pdf - Published version

Download (1MB) | Preview


The practice of social service in any society is determined by the distinct social and cultural characteristics of each particular country. This study explores tensions between professional social work roles and the cultural and religious context of hospitals in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Purnell model of cultural competence was the organising framework for this qualitative study. The researcher used the qualitative technique of thematic analysis to interpret the results. The researcher gathered data via semi-structured interviews with a convenience sample of social workers (n=24) and patients (n=20) from hospitals in Taif, Saudi Arabia, on their perceptions of medical social workers' roles and responsibilities.

The findings indicate tensions between social work roles and patient expectations, particularly regarding the role of women, respect for religious practices, beliefs about the nature of illness and how it should be treated. The results suggest that although social workers identified various specialised and non-specialised roles, The vast majority of these roles were unknown to the majority of the patients. There may be a lack of appreciation for social workers' efforts and functions as a result of a lack of awareness and knowledge about the social worker's role in the healthcare sector. A significant finding was the need for cultural competency among social workers. Issues occur when patients or their families impose their religious and social values on staff when receiving treatment. Patients agreed on the importance of their cultural and spiritual values when receiving the social worker's help. Most patients reported that the social workers complement Saudi cultural and Islamic religious customs. The study’s findings also indicated that a non-supportive organisational environment, including a shortage of offices, training, and financial support, was a major barrier that medical social workers faced. Therefore, this study recommends adding domains and themes to the Purnell model of cultural competence to ensure that social workers are culturally competent.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Althumali, N.
Date: December 2021
Rights: This work is the intellectual property of the author. You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study or personal, non-commercial research. Any reuse of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level, and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed to the owner of the Intellectual Property Rights.
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 15 Mar 2022 09:40
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2022 09:40

Actions (login required)

Edit View Edit View


Views per month over past year


Downloads per month over past year