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Home > Arhiva > 2014 > Numar: 2 > A Critical Role for Social Work Practice

 A Critical Role for Social Work Practice

  • Denalee O’Malley ([Rutgers University, School of Social Work/Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, 536 George Street, New Brunswick NJ, 08901, U.S.A., (732)-743-3335, E-mail:])
  • Csaba L. Dégi (Babeş Bolyai University Cluj-Napoca, School of Sociology and Social Work, 128-130 21 Decembrie 1989 Blvd, code 400604, E-mail:
  • Brittany L. Gilbert ([Rutgers University, School of Social Work, E-mail:])
  • Shari Munch (University of New Jersey, MSW, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 536 George Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901; E-mail:

The lack of a cohesive approach to Romanian cancer control has resulted in increased incidence and mortality for many cancers (e.g., cervical, lung) that can be prevented or successfully treated. Insufficient attention to psychosocial aspects throughout the phases of cancer control—from prevention and detection through treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care—magnifies Romania’s cancer burden.  Implementing cancer control nationally is a complex, multidisciplinary undertaking.  Recently, Romania’s new National Cancer Program was initiated and cancer control efforts are receiving increased attention. To date, uneven engagement of professionals who address the behavioral aspects of cancer control, such as social workers, raises implementation concerns. This article describes social work specialization in health care situated within the context of the parallel evolution of Romanian cancer control initiatives. A brief history of oncological social work illustrates the forces driving the need for increased cancer care specialization internationally, which can be adapted and applied to inform Romanian approaches as culturally appropriate. The recent momentum in cancer control efforts and magnitude of the cancer burden indicate that the time for social works’ engagement in these efforts is now; for example, meeting patients psychosocial needs and implementing cancer screening programs. Equipped with the necessary expertise in psychosocial assessment and intervention, across micro- and macro-level arenas, professional social workers are an untapped resource that could address the unmet needs of Romanian citizens and improve the effectiveness of Romania’s overall cancer control efforts.

Keywords: Cancer control, oncology, social work, health care social work, Romania