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Joakim Isaksson

Research projects

Publications

A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Two sides of the same coin – Oncology social workers' experiences of their working life and its pros and cons

    2021. Sara Lilliehorn, Joakim Isaksson, Pär Salander. Nordic Social Work Research

    Article

    From the litterature we learn that social workers in health care are exposed to different stressors connected to the risk for the development of burnout or traumatization. However, there is a lack of studies that focuses on the social workers' own narratives on the burdensome, but also the rewarding aspects, of social work in health care. This study focuses on social work in oncology. Thematically structured qualitative interviews were conducted in a narrative form with 20 oncology social workers, half of whom were less experienced and half of whom were more experienced and with additional training in psychotherapy. The interviews focused on 'pros and cons of practicing social work' and the results were categorized by means of the similarities-differences technique. The burdensome cons concerned 'Organizational and professional barriers' and 'Demanding cases', with the latter divided into 'Impasse because of hopelessness' and 'Impasse because of helpnessness'. The rewarding pros categories all concerned meaningfulness including 'Organizational meaningfulness', 'Meaningfulness from giving', 'Meaningfulness from receiving', and 'Meaningfulness from personal development'. Our findings indicate that the burdensome and rewarding aspects are two sides of the same coin. They are interconnected in the sense that the strain and challenge of being in situations of psychological despair also imply emotional satisfaction due to an experience of meaningfulness.

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  • What does an oncology social worker deal with in patient consultations – An empirical study

    2019. Sara Lilliehorn, Joakim Isaksson, Pär Salander. Social work in health care 58 (5), 494-508

    Article

    The oncology social worker is a core profession in the psychosocial care on cancer patients, and has been scrutinised according to its role, function, and delivery of care, primarily from an Anglo-Saxon perspective. There is, however, a lack of studies outside this context, and empirical studies based on individual data. This study is a contribution by exploring the variability in clinical practice from a Swedish perspective. It is based on documentation from one oncology social worker's (OSW's) patient contacts over the course of one year. The essence of the majority of contacts was counseling and the patients displayed a wide variety of motives for seeing an OSW. The function of the OSW is thus multifaceted, and the findings suggest that the OSW, in addition to guiding patients in social legislation issues, also should be prepared to act as an anchor in an acute crisis, contain despair in different phases of the trajectory, and facilitate the 'carrying on as before' or finding a 'new normal'. The paper discusses the importance of the OSW being acquainted with different counseling/psychotherapy perspectives in the illness context, but primarily the importance of having the ability to establish a 'working alliance' with their patients.

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  • Next of kin's motives for psychosocial consultation – Oncology social worker's perceptions of 54 next of kin cases

    2018. Joakim Isaksson, Sara Lilliehorn, Pär Salander. Psycho-Oncology

    Article

    Objective: Although oncology social workers (OSWs) have emerged as a core profession in the provision of psychosocial services, there is a lack of empirical studies that describe their daily clinical work with next of kin (NOK). The overall aim of this study was to explore NOK's motives for consulting an OSW. This can provide us with insights into what types of skills OSWs need to have in order to fulfil their duties.

    Methods: From a nationwide survey, we used data from 54 NOK cases that Swedish OSWs met face to face.

    Results: About half of the motives concerned help in dealing with personal grief connected to the patients' cancer and distressing symptoms, while the other half concerned needs for help in dealing with the position of being the NOK, relationship conflicts, and assistance with socio-economic issues.

    Conclusions: The motives show that NOK does not just ask for help to come to terms with distress related to the patients' situation. Based on the diversity of motives, we suggest that OSWs (at least in Sweden) need a broad education in counselling psychology. Furthermore, health care personnel need to be attentive to the NOK's own voice and not reduce it to the voice of the patient and the patient's needs in referrals.

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  • Kuratorsfunktionen i svensk cancersjukvård - en nationell genomlysning

    2018. Pär Salander, Joakim Isaksson, Sara Lilliehorn. Omsorg (3), 62-65

    Article

    Socialarbetaren (kuratorn) är den profession som i svensk cancersjukvård specifikt står för det psykosociala perspektivet. Föreliggande studie analyserar kuratorns verksamhet med utgångspunkt i patienters motiv till att söka upp kurator. Utfallet ger vid handen att motiven inte i första hand är socioekonomiska eller juridiska, utan i stället psykologiska, och förtrogenhet med det councelling-orienterade samtalet är därför efterfrågat och centralt. Detta bör beaktas när man planerar för legitimation av kuratorer i hälso- och sjukvård.

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  • Cancer patients' motives for psychosocial consultation - Oncology social workers' perceptions of 226 patient cases

    2018. Joakim Isaksson, Sara Lilliehorn, Pär Salander. Psycho-Oncology 27 (4), 1180-1184

    Article

    Objective: Although oncology social workers (OSWs) have emerged as a core profession in the provision of psychosocial services, there is a lack of empirical studies that describe their daily clinical work with patients. The overall aim of this study was to explore cancer patients' motives for consulting an OSW.

    Methods: From a nationwide survey, we used data from 226 patient cases that OSWs met face to face. The OSWs were asked to describe how the case was referred to them, the patient's characteristics, and what they perceived as the patient's motives for contacting them as well as additional motives that came up during the consultations.

    Results: Patients have different motives for consulting an OSW, and these motives change over the course of consultations; while feelings associated with being diagnosed with cancer were often the initial motive, questions associated with moving on in life and dealing with relationships and the overall life situation were added over time.

    Conclusions: The results show that Swedish OSWs' function is multifaceted and that the initial motives among patients rarely predict the content in consultations over time. Based on the diversity of motives, it seems obvious that OSWs (at least in Sweden) need a broad education in the psychology of counselling. It also seems obvious that even if patients initially were referred by health care staff to the OSW due to psychological reactions to being ill, staff should also be attentive to the fact that relational and socio-economic/juridical issues are of great concern for the patients.

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