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Social functioning and rheumatoid arthritis : an experimental study applying role theory to social functioning assessments of married female arthritis patients Walters, Kay

Abstract

Team members in medical rehabilitation centres are focusing more attention on devising new means for the establishment of a more precise evaluation of the patient's total functioning. The evaluation of the patient's social functioning is critical to team planning and treatment. It is also critical for the assessment of the success of the rehabilitation program. This experimental study was carried out under the joint auspices of the Vancouver branch of the Canadian Arthritis and Rheumatism Society and the School of Social Work at the University of British Columbia, in order to devise specific criteria for the assessment of the patient's social functioning. This in turn, would enable a more accurate assessment of the patient's total functioning. The study is limited to a small group of married female patients who received residential treatment at the Vancouver C.A.R.S. medical centre during the period between January 1962-May 1964. Role theory was used as the main frame of reference for this study and social functioning was equated to the sum total of roles performed. A three-point rating scale and scoring was created to represent the assessed performance of each role. An experimental approximation represented by a percentage figure was obtained of the subjects' social functioning levels at four specific points in time. Three sets of ratings were collected from (a) data found In the C.A.R.S. social service recordings, (b) data obtained from the subjects and (c) data collected by the writer from the subjects. The findings point out that although the research model demonstrated changes in levels of social functioning, these results were not conclusively established. The results were at best tentative, since the C.A.R.S. social service records could not meet the demands of the research instrument and the study involved only a small number of subjects. However, there was strong Indication that application of role theory to social functioning assessment formulations does provide a meaningful and systematic method for evaluating the patient's total functioning. In future sequential research, it has been recommended that social service records be utilized which employ role theory as the basis for social assessment formulations. Further, it has been suggested that one way to overcome the crudeness of the present research model, is to expand this study's three-point rating scale to a five-point rating scale, which would then reflect more accurately the patient’s social functioning.

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