Red flags and gut feelings-Midwives' perceptions of domestic and family violence screening and detection in a maternity department.

Elsevier BV
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Women and birth : journal of the Australian College of Midwives, 2020
Issue Date:
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BACKGROUND:Domestic and family violence (DFV) is known to escalate during pregnancy. Routine screening for DFV in maternity departments is a widely acceptable practice according to staff and women. This study is part of a 3-year follow-up of an organisational intervention evaluation and aimed to identify clinicians' perceptions of current practices, as well as barriers and enablers to DFV antenatal screening. METHOD:Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten midwives about conducting DFV screening within the maternity department of a large tertiary public hospital in Queensland, Australia. Interview transcripts were read and thematically analysed by two independent researchers. RESULTS:Four main themes emerged from the data: uncertainty despite education and training; fear of opening Pandora's Box; working with 'red flags' and 'gut feelings'; and it's all about the relationship. CONCLUSION:Although clinicians identified the importance of guidelines for managing DFV and knowledge of resources and services, confidence varied. Ongoing, formal, mandatory training in the area of DFV was highlighted. Managing partner presence in the room, building rapport with the woman, and time constraints continue to be challenging barriers to DFV detection. Routine screening, continuity of care, and staff knowledge and experience were major enablers to successful detection and response.
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