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Public Health. 2001 Mar;115(2):89-95.

Domestic violence: a comparative survey of levels of detection, knowledge, and attitudes in healthcare workers.

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Department of Public Health and Health Policy, Oxfordshire Health Authority, The Richards Building, Old Road, Headington, Oxford, OX3 7LG, UK.


The objective of this study was to compare the knowledge, attitudes, responses and levels of detection of domestic violence among a variety of healthcare workers in different specialities.Self-administered questionnaires were sent to community and hospital based healthcare workers in Oxfordshire working in primary care, obstetrics and gynaecology, mental health and accident and emergency. These comprised all principal general practitioners and general practitioner registrars, 50% of practice/district nurses and health visitors in each practice, and all healthcare workers in obstetrics and gynaecology, community mental health teams and accident and emergency in one trust. The amount of domestic violence detected in different healthcare settings was far less than indicated by anonymous surveys and crime figures. Knowledge about many of the issues surrounding domestic violence was inconsistent and there were fundamental deficiencies. The attitudes of healthcare workers to domestic violence were generally sympathetic and supportive. Women, nurses and community mental health workers reported significantly better knowledge and more positive attitudes than other respondents. Gender, role and speciality were independently associated with more positive attitudes and the latter two were independently associated with good knowledge. The response that healthcare workers make when they uncover domestic violence is confused and often inappropriate. In conclusion, most healthcare workers accept that domestic violence is a healthcare issue but lack fundamental knowledge about the issues surrounding domestic violence itself and appropriate agencies that can offer help. They also lack skills in identifying and discussing this issue with patients/clients. A large, unfulfilled training need has been identified.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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