Early-life adversity and choice of the social work profession

Carole J. Olson, David Royse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Social work students have reported comparatively high incidences of adverse early-life experiences, yet little is known about the extent of these experiences among professional social workers or how they may affect the choice of social work. This study addresses many of the shortcomings of previous studies, with respondents drawn from a national random sample of social workers and a comparison group made up of college- educated professional persons outside of social work. The findings reveal that the social work sample was not characterized by greater early-life adversity than that found among professional persons generally. Possible interpretations include an association between early-life adversity and shorter stays in the profession, and cohort differences in occupational choice influences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-47
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Evidence-Based Social Work
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2006


  • Early experience
  • Occupational choice
  • Psychosocial trauma
  • Social work education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Sociology and Political Science


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