Health Professional Women Experiencing Family Violence

 
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Project Lead

Elizabeth McLindon

 
 
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What’s the project about?

The aim of my PhD was to study a group of Australian health professional women to determine the prevalence of family violence (FV) against them, investigate the impact on clinical care of survivor patients and explore implications for the healthcare workplace. 

471 female Australian nurses, doctors and allied health professionals (45.0% response rate) participated in a survey about their experiences of family violence and 18 hospital managers were interviewed about the role of the healthcare workplace in responding to staff’s experiences of family violence.

 

What has this project achieved so far?

We found that:

  • In the last 12 months, one in ten (43, 11.5%) health professional women reported intimate partner violence;

  • Since the age of sixteen, one third (125, 29.7%) had experienced intimate partner violence;

  • Overall, 45.2% (212) of health professional women reported violence by a partner and/or family member during their lifetime, with 12.8% (60) reporting both;

  • Health professionals who have survived FV reported greater preparedness to intervene with survivor patients in a way that is consistent with ideal clinical care, indicating that personal FV experience is not a barrier, and may be a facilitator, to clinical care of survivor patients.

 

What can we expect to come out of this project?

  • FV survivors told us they wanted their workplace to understand how trauma had affected them, and they were in agreement with hospitals managers who said that formal resources and support were essential, including trained managers and the development of a trauma-informed culture. However, challenges to creating an environment where staff felt emotionally safe to disclose DV and seek support were identified;

  • A recommendation of this project is that hospitals must establish systems to support staff survivors in their recovery from DV, as they work with patients towards recovery from trauma.