Nurses' views of forensic care in emergency departments and their attitudes, and involvement of family members

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Aims and objectives.

To describe Nurses' views of forensic care provided for victims of violence and their families in EDs, to identify factors associated with Nurses' attitudes towards families in care and to investigate if these attitudes were associated with the involvement of patients' families in care.


Interpersonal violence has serious health consequences for individuals and family members. Emergency departments provide care for victims of violence, and nurses play a key role in forensic care. However, there is limited knowledge of their views and their involvement of family members.


A cross-sectional design was used with a sample of all registered nurses (n = 867) in 28 emergency departments in Sweden.


A self-report questionnaire, including the instrument Families' Importance in Nursing Care – Nurses' Attitudes, was used to collect data. Descriptive statistics, multiple linear regression and ordinal regression were used to analyse data.


Four hundred and fifty-seven nurses completed the questionnaire (53%). Most nurses provided forensic care, but few had specific education for this task. Policy documents and routines existed for specific patient groups. Most nurses involved family members in care although education and policy documents rarely included them. Being a woman, policy documents and own experience of a critically ill family member were associated with a positive attitude towards family. A positive attitude towards family members was associated with involving patients' families in care.


Many emergency department nurses provided forensic care without having specific education, and policy documents only concerned women and children. Nurses' positive attitude to family members was not reflected in policies or education.

Relevance to clinical practice.

These results can inspire clinical forensic care interventions in emergency departments. Educational efforts for nurses and policies for all groups of victims of violence are needed. Emergency departments may need to rethink how family members are included in their organisation.

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