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J Forensic Leg Med. 2016 Feb;38:64-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jflm.2015.11.020. Epub 2015 Dec 11.

What do EMS personnel think about domestic violence? An exploration of attitudes and experiences after participation in training.

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University of Windsor, School of Social Work, 401 Sunset Avenue, Windsor, ON N9B 3P4, Canada. Electronic address:
Institute for Family Violence Studies, College of Social Work, Florida State University, 296 Champions Way, Tallahassee, FL 32306-2570, USA. Electronic address:
University of Florida College of Medicine - Jacksonville, 655 West 8th Street, Jacksonville, FL 32209, USA. Electronic address:



In 2012, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) reaffirmed that domestic violence is a serious public health hazard that emergency medical services (EMS) personnel will encounter. Many victims of domestic violence may refuse transport to the hospital, making EMS prehospital field personnel --EMTs and paramedics-- their only contact with healthcare providers. Despite these facts, the interaction of field EMS personnel and victims of domestic violence remains largely unexamined.


Given the importance of the interaction of field EMS personnel have with victims of domestic violence, the goal of this study is to explore attitudes about and experiences of EMS personnel on the issue of domestic violence after completing a training on domestic violence.


Participants were recruited by researchers contacting multiple EMS agencies. Data were gathered using a survey attached to an online domestic violence training for field EMS personnel (EMTs and paramedics) circulated in a large southern state. Participants were able to obtain continuing education credits for completing the online modules.


A total of 403 respondents completed the survey. 71% of respondents indicated that they frequently encounter patients who disclose domestic violence; 45% believe that if a victim does not disclose abuse, there is little they can do to help; and from 32% to 43% reported assumptions and attitudes that indicate beliefs that victims are responsible for the abuse.


Implications of the data are discussed suggesting that EMS providers are aware that they frequently assist victims of domestic violence, yet many continue to endorse common myths and negative attitudes about victims. Core components of training that can educate EMS personnel about the dynamics of domestic violence are described, and a new free online training for medical professionals on domestic violence is offered for use as part of ongoing education to enhance the EMS response to victims.


Attitudes; Domestic violence; Emergency medical services; Intimate partner violence; Paramedicine

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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