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Research Briefing Paper. Exploring the experiences of Health Visitors' approach to domestic abuse using 'routine enquiry': a qualitative study.

Research output: Book/ReportOther report

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2017

Publication series

NameUniversity of Edinburgh


Key points
• Women who experience domestic abuse (DA) report that they would like to be asked by health professionals about the domestic abuse.
• While it is widely recognised that health professionals have an important role in identifying and intervening in domestic abuse, they often struggle to ask women about their experiences of abuse.
• Health visitors occupy an important position in the care of women and children in the community; this has been identified as a priority health setting for the training of staff in domestic abuse and the use of a ‘routine enquiry’ approach to asking about domestic abuse.
• The findings from this study show that health visitors have a high level of knowledge about domestic abuse. Nonetheless, there was little evidence of disclosure of domestic abuse through a ‘routine enquiry’ approach.
• The interviewees’ experiences suggest that asking about domestic abuse can be impeded for a variety of reasons; from process issues such as not being clear when or how to record the outcomes; to more subtle, relational issues such as the need to build a strong relationship with the woman, the challenge of how to have ‘courageous conversations’ and the recognition that domestic abuse is a highly complex issue to ‘untangle’.
• Factors such as exposure to working with women who have experienced domestic abuse and attendance at Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARACs) increase the ability of health visitors to identify and intervene in domestic abuse.

    Research areas

  • domestic abuse, health visitors, routine enquiry, qualitative research

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