Assisting patients experiencing family violence: A survey of training levels, perceived knowledge, and confidence of clinical staff in a large metropolitan hospital Academic Article uri icon


  • Objectives: Family violence is a public health issue. It occurs in many forms, is most commonly directed at woman and children, and contributes significantly to death, disability, and illness. This study was conducted in the clinical staff in a large metropolitan hospital and aimed to determine levels of family violence training, self-perceived knowledge and confidence, specific clinical skills, and barriers to working effectively in the area. Methods: A short, targeted online survey was designed to capture the required information. Descriptive statistics were calculated, and free-text responses were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Results: Survey responses were received from 534 staff (242 nurses, 225 allied health, 67 medical). Sixty-five percent had received some form of family violence training, mostly of short duration (1–3 h); 72% reported having little or no confidence working in the area, while 76% indicated that they had little or no knowledge in the area. Longer duration training was associated with an increase in knowledge and confidence ratings. Family violence screening rates and knowledge of several specific family violence clinical skills (how to appropriately ask clients about family violence and family violence risk factors) were also low. Thirty-four percent indicated that they did not know what to do, when a patient disclosed experiencing family violence. The most commonly indicated barriers to working effectively in this area were suspected perpetrators being present, perceived reluctance of patients/clients to disclose when asked, and time limitations. Conclusion: This research provides a useful snapshot of clinical staff perceptions of their family violence skill levels in a large metropolitan Australian tertiary hospital. It highlights the need for further in-depth training in clinical health professionals in family violence. The research will allow for family violence training to be tailored to the needs of the professional discipline and clinical area.


  • Fisher, CA
  • Rudkin, N
  • Withiel, Toni D
  • May, Amanda
  • Barson, E
  • Allen, B
  • O’Brien, E
  • Willis, Karen

publication date

  • 2020