Interventions to Mitigate Bias in Social Work Decision-Making: A Systematic Review

Rebecca Jean Featherston, Aron Shlonsky, Courtney Lewis, My-Linh Luong, Laura E. Downie, Adam P. Vogel, Catherine Granger, Bridget Hamilton, Karyn Galvin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This systematic review synthesized evidence supporting interventions aimed at mitigating cognitive bias associated with the decision-making of social work professionals. Methods: A systematic search was conducted within 10 social services and health-care databases. Review authors independently screened studies in duplicate against prespecified inclusion criteria, and two review authors undertook data extraction and quality assessment. Results: Four relevant studies were identified. Because these studies were too heterogeneous to conduct meta-analyses, results are reported narratively. Three studies focused on diagnostic decisions within mental health and one considered family reunification decisions. Two strategies were reportedly effective in mitigating error: a nomogram tool and a specially designed online training course. One study assessing a consider-the-opposite approach reported no effect on decision outcomes. Conclusions: Cognitive bias can impact the accuracy of clinical reasoning. This review highlights the need for research into cognitive bias mitigation within the context of social work practice decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)741-752
Number of pages12
JournalResearch on Social Work Practice
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • cognitive bias
  • decision-making
  • social work
  • systematic review

Cite this