Attitudes and Practices of Registered Nurses Toward Women Who Have Experienced Abuse/Domestic Violence

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To compare the education, attitudes, and practices related to domestic violence of perinatal nurses from three types of practice sites.


A descriptive study of responses to a questionnaire administered to a convenience sample and through a mailing.


Education conferences and responses to a mailing.


Two hundred seventy-five nurses in perinatal practice (87 public health, 71 hospital, 117 private office).

Main Outcome Measures:

Primary outcomes were attitudes and beliefs about domestic violence and nursing behavior when domestic violence was identified. The effects of education about domestic violence on practice and the effect of a personal/family history of domestic violence on practice were examined.


Some differences were found in the attitudes and beliefs of nurses from different practice sites, but more differences were found in their behaviors. Only 54% of the total sample reported having education about domestic violence, received in formal or continuing education programs. Public health nurses were the most likely to have such education. Education affected both attitudes and behavior. In the total sample, 31% of nurses reported abuse of themselves or family members.


Nursing care for women who have experienced domestic violence includes assessment and appropriate counseling. Many nurses in this study lacked education about domestic violence. The provision of education about abuse and domestic violence is a first step toward a change in nursing practice.

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