Professional identity of Wuhan and Hong Kong social workers: COVID-19 challenges and implications

Yan-zhi Du, TM Simon Chan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This reflexive essay focus on how COVID-19 has impacted the professional identity of social workers in Wuhan and Hong Kong. Exploratory and reflexive in nature, eight Wuhan social workers who comprised three males and five females, and seven Hong Kong social workers who comprised one male and six females were recruited for semi-structured interviews. Their experience in Wuhan and Hong Kong during COVID-19 were highlighted. The challenges to professional identity were analyzed and the reflection is categorized into four levels, namely, individual, community, educational and conceptual level. In sum, Wuhan interviewees were more struggled with educating the public on the difference between community work, volunteering and social work, especially at the hospitals, to protect the integrity of the social work profession which shows their commitment to their professional identity. Moreover, they found it difficult to position themselves in proactive online services, where hundreds of workers from different parts of the Mainland China would be involved. On the other hand, Hong Kong interviewees were more inclined to prioritize professional principles at levels that are even higher than those in standardized guidelines. Their goal is to take the best interests of their clients into consideration, and their self-reflections tend to focus more on professional judgement and development of the social work field, to pave the way for future enhancements. Finally yet importantly, the deficiencies of their education as evidenced by the pandemic have been made alarmingly explicit.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-304
Number of pages8
JournalQualitative Social Work
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

User-Defined Keywords

  • China
  • Coivd-19
  • Hong Kong
  • professional identity
  • social work education
  • Social work practice


Dive into the research topics of 'Professional identity of Wuhan and Hong Kong social workers: COVID-19 challenges and implications'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this