Assisting patients who are experiencing family violence is an important issue for health services. Rates of screening for family violence in general hospital settings in Australia are unclear. This study was conducted to obtain data on hospital family violence screening rates and health service users’ perceptions of the screening process, in a large metropolitan hospital in Australia.
Clients from the clinical caseloads of social work and psychology staff were invited to participate in a tablet administered, online survey of their family violence screening experiences, within the health service.
A total of 59 surveys were completed by hospital users, who had been treated in areas including the emergency department, acute inpatient wards, sub-acute and rehabilitation units, and outpatient clinics. Less than half the sample reported being screened for family violence at the health service. One-quarter of the respondents reported disclosing family violence concerns, with one-fifth wanting to disclose, but not feeling comfortable to do so. The majority of respondents who disclosed family violence felt supported by the response of the staff member and were provided with information they found helpful. However, further work could be done to improve screening rates, environmental and organizational factors to promote users feeling comfortable to disclose, and staff responses to disclosures.
The results of the survey will be used to inform the development of a hospital-wide family violence training initiative aimed to improve staff knowledge, confidence, rates of screening, and clinical responses to family violence.