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Hospital responses to staff who have experienced domestic and family violence: a qualitative study with survivor staff and hospital managers

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Health professionals play a critical role in responding to the health consequences of domestic and family violence (DFV). However, health professional women themselves experience high rates of DFV and there is scant evidence underpinning hospital workplace responses. The aim of this Australian research was to explore the views of survivor health professional women and their managers about the role of the hospital workplace in responding to survivor staff. A ‘combined methodological approach’ encompassed open-ended survey questions to survivor health professionals about workplace experiences and support needs. Managers participated in an interview about the employment response. Thematic analysis of survivor staff (n=93) and manager (n=18) data identified three themes: (a) Understand that DFV affects staff, (b) Support for staff is essential and (c) Challenges of establishing a safe workplace. Survivors wanted understanding about how trauma had affected them, and managers recognised that staff were exposed to potentially triggering patient narratives of abuse. Both groups believed that formal resources and support were essential, including managers trained to respond sensitively to disclosures of DFV. However, challenges to creating an environment where staff felt emotionally and physically safe were identified. A trauma and violence informed hospital response could promote recovery for survivor staff and patients.
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Keywords: domestic violence; health professionals; hospitals; intimate partner violence; managers

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Melbourne, Australia 2: University of Melbourne, Australia and The Royal Women’s Hospital, Australia

Publication date: June 2021

This article was made available online on July 17, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "Hospital responses to staff who have experienced domestic and family violence: a qualitative study with survivor staff and hospital managers".

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Gender-Based Violence (JGBV), is the first international journal based in Europe to show case the work of scholars across disciplinary and topic boundaries, and from a range of methodologies.

    The journal acknowledges both the breadth of gender-based violence (GBV) and its links to gendered inequalities. It aims to continue to document the voices and experiences of victims and survivors of GBV, to publish work regarding those who perpetrate GBV and of the varied and complex social structures, inequalities and gender norms through which GBV is produced and sustained. The journal recognises the intersection of gender with other identities and power relations, such as ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, faith, disability and economic status.

    JGBV will publish high quality papers that contribute to understanding of GBV, policy, and/or activism, on sexual violence, domestic abuse, ‘honour’-based violence, prostitution, trafficking and/or reproductive violence and abuse in a wide range of intimate, familial, community and societal contexts.

    The editors invite interest from scholars working across the social sciences and related fields including social policy, sociology, politics, criminology, law, social psychology, development and economics, as well as disciplines allied to medicine, health and wellbeing.

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