Prevalence of experiences of partner violence among female health staff: relevance to awareness and action when meeting abused women patients

Womens Health Issues. Mar-Apr 2008;18(2):141-9. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2007.12.003. Epub 2008 Jan 28.


Background: As violence against women is a prevalent phenomenon, it is quite likely that health workers have experienced such violence. Prevalence among female health staff of emotional, physical and sexual abuse inflicted by a current or previous male partner as well as awareness of violence within the family of origin or among acquaintances were studied. Whether such experiences were associated with practice and knowledge concerning care of abused women was also examinated.

Methods: Questionnaires were distributed to randomly selected female health care workers at a Swedish hospital. Response rate was 68% (588 participating). Bivariate and multivariate analyses were performed.

Main findings: Emotional, physical and sexual abuse by a current or previous male partner was reported by 23.5%; abuse within family or among acquaintances by 22.1%. Associations between personal experience of violence and aspects of practice and knowledge in bivariate comparisons did not remain significant in binary logistic regression analyses, with one exception. Those with awareness of violence within the family or among acquaintances met abused women more frequently. Training was positively associated with all aspects of care and knowledge.

Conclusion: The prevalence rate of intimate partner violence (23.5%) among female health staff was high and not unlike that of the Swedish female population in general. Training is of greater importance than personal experience of violence in the context of practice and knowledge when meeting abused women as patients. Hence, men's violence against women should be included in professional education and in in-service training.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Battered Women / psychology
  • Battered Women / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Medical Staff / psychology
  • Medical Staff / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Spouse Abuse / psychology
  • Spouse Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Truth Disclosure
  • Women's Health
  • Women, Working / psychology
  • Women, Working / statistics & numerical data*