Social Work Scholarship on Forced Migration: A Scoping Review

Odessa Gonzalez Benson, Karin Wachter, Jessica Lee, Darlene Nichols, Erica Hylton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This scoping review identifies and analyses historical to present-day contributions of social work scholarship on forced migration, with the aim of reviewing trends and identifying priority areas for the discipline moving forward. This review examined 331 articles related to forced migration published in 40 social work journals over four decades (1978 to 2019). Findings illustrate notable trends in temporal, methodological, topical and geographical dimensions and how those vary by first authors' locations, research sites and study populations. Temporally, the number of articles has been increasing, quadrupling between 2001-2010 and 2011-2019, with 20 social work journals doubling their number of articles. Methodologically, the large majority of articles were qualitative and/or conceptual. Topically, the most common were practice, intervention, health and mental health, while the least common topics included human rights, social justice, poverty, religion, violence, history and theory. Geographically, social work scholarship was mainly focused on refugees in the Global North and third-country resettlement contexts, and authored by scholars in the Global North. Findings thus reveal critical gaps in topics and geographical biases, raising questions related to issues of ethics, power and the production of knowledge about forced migration in the social work academy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2680-2702
Number of pages23
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021


  • Forced migration
  • knowledge production
  • migrants
  • refugees
  • scoping review
  • social work
  • social work research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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