Purpose: Guardianship of people with disabilities has been under growing scrutiny, leading some welfare states to offer supported decision-making as a legal alternative. This study examined the attitudes of Israeli social work students toward guardianship and supported decision-making and the relationship between these attitudes and the perceived importance of social work goals, as mediated by perceptions of disability. Materials and methods: Participants were 414 undergraduate and graduate level social work students from Israel. Participants completed a structured questionnaire that measured: attitudes toward guardianship and supported decision-making, importance of social work goals, and perception of disability. Results: Although social work students tended to support limiting the scope of guardianship, they did not clearly oppose it. Individual model perspective of disability mediated the association between the social work goal of social control and attitudes toward guardianship. Social model perspective of disability mediated the association between the social work goal of social justice and attitudes toward guardianship. Conclusion: To reduce guardianship appointments, social work educators should educate students better regarding current supported decision-making trends, emphasize the importance of social justice goals, and discuss critically the necessity of social control. Further, educators need to embrace the social model of disability, in particular its view of autonomy and interdependence.Implications for rehabilitation The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has urged limiting guardianship practices, and developing instead less restrictive alternatives, especially supported decision making. In order to fully implement the Convention’s vision, efforts must be placed in social work training programs on discussing the limitations of guardianship, the dilemmas it raises and the advantages of other less restrictive alternatives, including that of supported decision-making. Social work educators should also emphasize the importance of social justice goals and discuss critically the necessity of social control. Similar emphasis should be placed on exposing students to the social model of disability, including its view of autonomy and interdependence.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We would like to thank the Warburg Foundation for their funding for this study. We would also like to thank Ortal Wasser and Maayan Livne for their excellent research assistance.
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- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- social work students
- supported decision making