• Vita Hagelskjær
4. term, Social Work, Master (Master Programme)
Abstract
The purpose of this thesis is to identify social worker’s attitudes upon overweight among adults with intellectual disabilities, and to investigate the content of these attitudes.
The starting point is a documentation of the fact, that adults with intellectual disabilities in Denmark, compared to the rest of the population, far more frequently have lifestyle-related diseases, and that they far more frequently suffer from overweight and obesity. It is also documented how lifestyle habits, such as food- and exercise habits, have a profound influence on the individual’s health and quality of life, and an Australian study documents, that the factors which are conductive in terms of participating in physical activities among these people, involves the support people they are related to in their environments. Therefore, the focus in the study is directed towards these support people and their approach to the work that deals with the lifestyle-related health condition among adults with intellectual disabilities, since this affects these people’s possibilities of gaining and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
The problem statement reads:
Which attitudes do social workers, who work at residences for adults with intellectual disabilities, have towards issues that concerns overweight among the residents?
What does the content of the attitudes mean for the social worker’s assessments of when, how and why one should intervene towards a resident suffering from overweight and unfortunate food- and exercise habits?
The study is made as a vertical vignette investigation in a mixed methods strategy, and is initiated with a survey, followed by five qualitative individual interviews. Quantitative and qualitative collection of data is structured around four different vignettes, that rise questions about attitudes towards overweight, diet policy, different types of interventions, self-determination and responsibility. Two residences in a medium-sized municipality form the frame of the study.
The results of the study first of all show how social workers agree, that overweight is a serious issue, which affects the individual’s possibilities of participating in valuable activities, with the consequence being a reduced quality of life. Furthermore they agree that an intervening against the problem is necessary. On the other hand they disagree on when and how to intervene, and there has been discrepancies between the social worker’s verbalized values and their actual dispositions of acting. This concerns questions about how to perceive the residents’ self-determination, and how you as a social worker navigate in the field of tension between self-determination as a fundamental human right, and the necessity of taking action against irrational and harmful patterns of behavior. The study also shows, that self-determination, erroneously, is perceived as a statutory right, which has limited working possibilities and a pressure on the holistic approach as consequences.
With Bourdieu’s theories about field, habitus and capital, it is made plausible, that there is a battle going on between the right to choose freely on one side, and healthy food- and exercise habits, which are attempted to be maintained with a number of pedagogical interventions, on the other side.
Eventually the results are put in perspective with the possibilities of professional development in the residences, for the purpose of coping with complex issues with the residents’ overweight and unfortunate food- and exercise habits.
LanguageDanish
Publication date19 Nov 2013
Number of pages96
ID: 136877716