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Making sense of domestic violence intervention in professional health care

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Intervening in domestic violence in the health care and social service settings is a complex and contested issue. In this qualitative, multidisciplinary study, the barriers to but also the possibilities for health care professionals in encountering victims of violence were scrutinised. The focus was on omissions in service structure and practices. The data consisted of six focus group interviews with nurses, physicians, social workers and psychologists in specialist health care (n = 30) conducted in Finland in 2009. The aim was to explore professionals’ processes of making sense of violence interventions and the organisational practices of violence interventions. Four types of framing of the domestic violence issue were identified: (i) practical frame, (ii) medical frame, (iii) individualistic frame and (iv) psychological frame. Each frame consisted of particular features relating to explaining, structuring or dismissing the question of domestic violence in health care settings. The main themes included the division of responsibilities and feasibility of treatment. All four frames underlie the tendency for healthcare professionals to arrive at sense‐making practices where it is possible to focus on fixing the injuries and consequences of domestic violence and bypassing the issue of violence as the cause of symptoms and injuries. The results indicate that developing successful practices both in identifying survivors of domestic violence and in preventing further victimisation requires a broad understanding of the effects of domestic violence and the challenges for health care professionals in dealing with it. New perspectives are needed in creating adequate practices both for victims of violence seeking help and for professionals working with this issue. Strong support at the organisational level and established practices throughout the fields of health and social care are the key elements in building a responsible approach to domestic violence.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland 2: Family Research Centre, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland 3: Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland

Publication date: 2012-07-01

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