Differences in help-seeking behaviours and perceived helpfulness of services between abused and non-abused women: A cross-sectional survey of Australian postpartum women Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • New mothers may face substantial physical and mental health challenges during the postpartum period and are at a greater risk of intimate partner violence. Healthcare services provide support, however, acknowledging a problem and seeking help for it can be difficult. Research on where postpartum women seek help and how helpful they perceive it is limited. Additionally, little is known of how these help-seeking behaviours differ between abused and non-abused postpartum women. The aim of this study was to examine the help-seeking behaviour and perceived helpfulness of services in abused and non-abused postpartum women. Secondary analysis was undertaken of data collected during the MOVE (Improving Maternal and Child Health Care for Vulnerable Mothers) cluster randomised controlled trial of a nurse, intimate partner violence screening and supportive care intervention. MOVE was set in eight community-based nurse teams in Melbourne, Australia. The trial (2010-2013) included a survey of n = 2,621 postpartum Australian women who had given birth within the previous 8 months. Data were analysed using descriptive and interferential statistics. Findings indicate that abused women who had experienced partner violence sought informal family support less frequently (81.3% compared with 92.4%, p < .001) and were more frequent users of hospital emergency departments (p = .03), nurse home visiting programs (p = .02) and some breastfeeding services (p = .001), compared with non-abused women. They were also more frequent users of psychiatrists (p ≤ 0.001), early parenting centres (both day stay (p = .006) and residential (p = .008), child welfare services (p < .001), and were generally less satisfied with the help received. Postpartum women experiencing partner violence seek help from certain formal services more frequently and are less satisfied with the care received, compared with non-abused women. Access to potential protective supports from family and friends is limited. Further qualitative research is needed to gain a greater understanding of abused postpartum women's experiences and help-seeking behaviours.

publication date

  • 2019

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