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

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  • 1 University of Melbourne, Australia
  • | 2 University of Melbourne, Australia and The Royal Women’s Hospital, Australia
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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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  • 1 University of Melbourne, Australia
  • | 2 University of Melbourne, Australia and The Royal Women’s Hospital, Australia

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