CHAPTER X
MEDICAL SOURCES

IF, ON the basis of the social case work records then available for study, this book had been written fifteen years ago, it would probably have been found that the outside source of information consulted oftener than relatives even was employers. But there has been a shifting of interest from data about earnings and occupation to data about health and disease. All of these groups of facts are closely interrelated, of course, and the change is merely one of emphasis. So marked is it, however, that there may be need later of new emphasis upon another group of sources to preserve our social center of gravity.

The lists of outside sources used by the 56 social agencies whose records were studied show that Medical Sources were consulted two and a half times as often as employers and other work sources. In 2,800 cases, to be exact, 1,828 Medical Sources were consulted and 743 work sources.1 The multiplication in recent years of medical agencies both curative and preventive, especially in large cities like those included in our study of sources, accounts in part for this; in part, it is due to the fact that some agencies for the care of the sick now have social as well as medical records--social records that can be consulted with profit, that is. But part of it is also due to a change in the attitude of non-medical social workers toward their own task. In seeking to remedy bad social conditions they have come to recognize more fully the great handicap of bad physical conditions, and have learned to welcome, in the effort to remedy these, the aid of a newer and more constructive medical science. Their awakening is due, in part, to their own deepened experience of human need, but even more is it due to the socialized members of the medical profession, who have led the way in many departments of social endeavor--a way in which the lay social workers have been only too glad to follow.

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