The practice of social work in the rural environment : a study of rural social work practitioners in the Interlake and Eastman Regions of the province of Manitoba

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Thomson, Marcia Marguerite.
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The objectives of this research were to present an exploratory analysis of social work practice in the rural setting by identifying the significant characteristics of the rural environment and the implications of the rural context for professional social work practice, service delivery, administrative and service policy and professional education. A qualitative methodology was designed to meet the research requirements of the study, sources of data being a review of the more recent literature on rural social work and field study. The richest information was obtained from semi-structured interviews with social workers practicing in the rural communities of the Interlake and Eastman Regions of the Province of Manitoba. Research findings were analyzed and presented in terms of a qualitative discussion of the insights solicited from rural social work practitioners and from the social work literature, and in terms of hypotheses or generalized relations about the practice of social work in the rural setting. A synthesis of the data found in the literature and the descriptive data elicited during the interviews comprise a multi-dimensional portrait of rural social work practice. Attention was devoted not to a differentiation between urban and rural social work, but to the development of rural social work as a special interest area. This exploratory study led to conclusions about the challenges of practicing social work in the rural setting and improving human services of rural communities.