New Study Paves the Way for Improved Family Violence Screening

New Study Paves the Way for Improved Family Violence Screening

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The outcomes of a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing will help to determine baseline levels of training, knowledge and confidence working in the area of family violence.

Tweddle participated in the study, which aimed to explore perceived staff barriers to working effectively in this area and client perceptions of existing screening practices. Thirty‐five Tweddle staff and 15 mothers participated in the study.

Supported by the Victorian state government as part of the Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence (SHRFV) Initiative, the results will inform clinical screening practices in maternal health services through an exploration of facilitators and barriers in the screening process.

Research showed that while staff knowledge and skills in the area of screening for family violence were good, there was room to further support clinicians in order to ensure best practice and improve outcomes.

The most commonly reported barriers to screening were suspected perpetrators being present during consultations and language barriers. Most clients reported being screened for physical violence and safety in the home with few being asking about financial and sexual abuse, or psychological violence and coercive control.

Toni D. Withiel from Monash University led a team of researchers on the study which included Tweddle’s Director of Clinical Services and Nursing, Kirsty Evans and Beverley Allen, Tweddle Director of Education.  “Clients who disclosed violence reported being well supported.” Ms Evans said. “Tweddle has introduced a number of training modules to support staff in the screening, identification and discussion around family violence. Our aim is to minimise the barriers for both clients and staff to crucial discussions and disclosures around family violence.”

Ms Allen concurred with research that revealed pregnancy and the postnatal period to be times of particularly significant risk for the onset of family violence. “Early Parenting settings like Tweddle, as well as child and maternal health services are well placed to screen for violence” she said. “We know that clinician and client perceptions of family violence screening will improve with education”.

The Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence Resource Centre at the Royal Women’s Hospital outlines that the health sector is a critical entry point for identifying people affected by family violence, providing medical care and a pathway to specialist support and assistance.

Strengthening the capacity of health care professionals to identify and support people across the life span is crucial to the prevention of and response to family violence.

The critical importance of this work is in response to recommendation 95 of the Royal Commission into Family Violence (The Commission) which called for a whole-of-hospital approach when responding to family violence drawing on evaluated approaches.

More information about the Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence (SHRFV) Initiative can he found here.


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