Managing Risk: Social Workers’ Intervention Strategies in Cases of Domestic Abuse Against People with Learning Disabilities

Megan Robb, Michelle McCarthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social workers in England are key professionals involved in addressing safeguarding concerns affecting adults with learning disabilities, including the risk of harm from domestic abuse. This article reports the findings from an empirical study conducted with 15 social workers who participated in a 2-stage interview process. The findings and discussion examine social workers’ approaches to risk management interventions in cases of domestic abuse against adults with learning disabilities. Informed by Beck’s Risk Society theory, our analysis finds that interventions often focus on individuals taking responsibility for managing risk, with either the victim or the social worker becoming the risk decision-maker. Furthermore, in carrying out their work, social workers used bureaucratic tasks to protect the organisation and individual decision-makers from blame. The article concludes with recommendations for practice which explores more holistic understandings of risk and which seeks to promote more collective responses to risk management.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Risk & Society
Early online date9 Nov 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Nov 2022

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