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Soc Work. 2000 May;45(3):251-61.

Ensuring ethical practice: An Examination of NASW Code violations, 1986-97.

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School of Social Work, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 27599, USA.


The NASW Code of Ethics is intended to serve as a guide for practice and as a statement of professional standards that the public may use to hold social workers accountable for their actions. At times, however, the Code's prescriptions may seem overly general, difficult to apply, or unrealistic in light of the challenges workers face daily. How then is the Code interpreted? What actions by social workers may result in findings of ethics violations? This article reviews earlier research on violations of the NASW Code and reports on a recent study reviewing allegations made against NASW members from 1986 to 1997. The article describes the frequency and types of behaviors that resulted in findings of ethical misconduct and offers suggestions for enhancing practice and reducing exposure to ethics complaints.

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