Qualitative analysis of domestic violence detection and response in a tertiary hospital.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of primary health care, 2019, 11, (2), pp. 178-184
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INTRODUCTION Domestic and family violence is a public health problem of epidemic proportions and a significant issue facing the Australian community. It knows no boundaries, is indiscriminate to geographical location, social class, age, religious or cultural background. AIM This study aimed to analyse the processes currently used to identify and respond to domestic and family violence in a large tertiary hospital in Australia, and to classify the benefits and weaknesses of these existing systems. METHODS A qualitative method used semistructured, face-to-face and telephone interviews with key informants in 16 key areas across the hospital. Thematic analysis of the interviews was used to define the key issues and areas of interest identified by participants. RESULTS There was a dearth of existing guidelines or pathways of care for patients experiencing domestic violence. Several strengths and weaknesses were identified in relation to the protocols and systems used by the hospital, including limited training for staff and a lack of standardisation of processes, workplace instructions and clinical guidelines. With the exception of maternity services, no clinical service area used a guideline or work instruction. Most interviewees highlighted the need for the safety and protection of staff and victims as a priority. DISCUSSION Domestic and family violence is an enormous burden on the health system. However, many staff have little or no guidance on dealing with it or are unaware of existing protocols or guidelines for detection or response. Participants recommended further education and training for staff, consistent guidelines, specialist liaison and more educational and information resources for staff and patients. Further investigation and discussions with patients affected by violence is warranted to provide robust recommendations for policy change.
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