Masters Thesis

Barriers to nurses reporting domestic violence: a partial replication study

Domestic violence disrupts the whole family while intensely affecting the well-being, health, and vitality of family members. Public health nurses have a unique position to detect domestic violence before many other health care professionals due to greater access to troubled families especially by home visitations. The purpose of this quantitative, cross-sectional study was to partially replicate the J. Smith and colleagues’ (2008) Domestic Violence Survey and identify the barriers public health nurses encountered to reporting domestic violence in a California public health department. The Domestic Violence Surveys were emailed to 110 nurses at a California public health department and were allowed approximately four weeks to submit the completed surveys. A total of 32 completed surveys were returned, which was a response rate of 29%. The majority of the subjects who participated in this study were registered nurses above the age of 50 years (56.27%, n=18), female (87.5%, n=28), Caucasian (71.88%, n=23), with a bachelor’s degree (71.88%, n=23), and specialized in public health nursing (37.5%, n=12). The findings indicated the top reporting barriers for public health nurses in this study were: Not enough evidence, patient did not want the episode reported, and fear of repercussions/retaliation toward the victim. Despite these reporting barriers, the majority (62.5%, n=20) of the public health nurses did report domestic violence and provided referrals for the victims. Furthermore, the nurses (40.63%, n=13) who had personally experienced domestic violence were more likely to report it. The results also signified a need for a domestic violence tool. Many of the public health nurses thought there was a standardized tool for the public health department; however, no standardized tool is being used currently. For the subjects (37.5%, n=12) who suspected domestic violence, but did not report it, education, training, and a standardized assessment tool for domestic violence are recommended. This would be beneficial to public health nurses to confidently and properly report domestic violence without facing reporting barriers.

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