Social Work - Research Publications

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    "You can't swim well if there is a weight dragging you down": cross-sectional study of intimate partner violence, sexual assault and child abuse prevalence against Australian nurses, midwives and carers.
    McLindon, E ; Diemer, K ; Kuruppu, J ; Spiteri-Staines, A ; Hegarty, K (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2022-09-12)
    BACKGROUND: Domestic and family violence (DFV), including intimate partner violence (IPV), sexual assault and child abuse are prevalent health and social issues, often precipitating contact with health services. Nurses, midwives and carers are frontline responders to women and children who have experienced violence, with some research suggesting that health professionals themselves may report a higher incidence of IPV in their personal lives compared to the community. This paper reports the largest study of DFV against health professionals to date. METHOD: An online descriptive, cross-sectional survey of 10,674 women and 772 men members of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) (Victorian Branch). The primary outcome measures were 12-month and adult lifetime IPV prevalence (Composite Abuse Scale); secondary outcomes included sexual assault and child abuse (Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey) and prevalence of IPV perpetration (bespoke). RESULTS: Response rate was 15.2% of women/11.2% of men who were sent an invitation email, and 38.4% of women/28.3% of men who opened the email. In the last 12-months, 22.1% of women and 24.0% of men had experienced IPV, while across the adult lifetime, 45.1% of women and 35.0% of men had experienced IPV. These figures are higher than an Australian community sample. Non-partner sexual assault had been experienced by 18.6% of women and 7.1% of men, which was similar to national community sample. IPV survivors were 2-3 times more likely to have experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse in childhood compared to those without a history of IPV (women OR 2.7, 95% CI 2.4 to 2.9; men OR 2.8, 95% CI 2.0 to 4.1). Since the age of sixteen, 11.7% of men and 1.7% of women had behaved in a way that had made a partner or ex-partner feel afraid of them. CONCLUSIONS: The high prevalence of intimate partner violence and child abuse in this group of nurses, midwives and carers suggests the need for workplace support programs. The findings support the theory that childhood adversity may be related to entering the nursing profession and has implications for the training and support of this group.
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    Women's experiences and expectations of intimate partner abuse identification in healthcare settings: a qualitative evidence synthesis
    Korab-Chandler, E ; Kyei-Onanjiri, M ; Cameron, J ; Hegarty, K ; Tarzia, L (BMJ PUBLISHING GROUP, 2022-07-01)
    OBJECTIVES: To explore women's experiences and expectations of intimate partner abuse (IPA) disclosure and identification in healthcare settings, focusing on the process of disclosure/identification rather than the healthcare responses that come afterwards. DESIGN: Systematic review and meta-synthesis of qualitative studies DATA SOURCES: Relevant studies were sourced by using keywords to search the databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsychINFO, SocINDEX and ASSIA in September 2021. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: Studies needed to focus on women's views about IPA disclosure and identification in healthcare settings, use qualitative methods and have been published in the last 5 years. DATA EXTRACTION AND SYNTHESIS: Relevant data were extracted into a customised template. The Critical Appraisal Skills Programme checklist for qualitative research was used to assess the methodological quality of included studies. A thematic synthesis approach was applied to the data, and confidence in the findings was appraised using The Confidence in the Evidence from Reviews of Qualitative research methods. RESULTS: Thirty-four studies were included from a range of healthcare settings and countries. Three key themes were generated through analysing their data: (1) Provide universal education, (2) Create a safe and supportive environment for disclosure and (3) It is about how you ask. Included papers were rated overall as being of moderate quality, and moderate-high confidence was placed in the review findings. CONCLUSIONS: Women in the included studies articulated a desire to routinely receive information about IPA, lending support to a universal education approach that equips all women with an understanding of IPA and options for assistance, regardless of disclosure. Women's suggestions for how to promote an environment conducive to disclosure and how to enquire about IPA have clear implications for clinical practice.PROSPERO registration numberCRD42018091523.
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    Tensions in the therapeutic relationship: emotional labour in the response to child abuse and neglect in primary healthcare.
    Kuruppu, J ; Humphreys, C ; McKibbin, G ; Hegarty, K (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2022-03-17)
    BACKGROUND: Child abuse and neglect (child abuse) is a prevalent public health issue linked to survivors experiencing a higher risk of health issues such as obesity, heart disease and major depression. Given the significant impact of child abuse on health, general practitioners (GPs) and primary care nurses (nurses) are well-placed to respond to child abuse. However, research shows that responding to child abuse is difficult for health practitioners, especially the act of reporting child abuse. The present study aimed to understand how GPs and nurses experience the response to child abuse in primary healthcare. METHODS: This study employed qualitative methods. Twenty-six in-depth individual and group interviews were conducted with 30 GPs and nurses. The interviews were audio recorded with consent, transcribed verbatim and thematically analysed. RESULTS: The participants were mostly metropolitan-based female GPs. Participants were sampled from two settings: private general practice and community health; and Doctors in Secondary Schools, a program that places GPs and nurses in high schools. Thematic analysis generated four themes: blowing trust out of the water; riding the reaction wave; opening a hornet's nest; and battling emotions. Participants felt that, in considering child abuse, they were betraying the trust of the therapeutic relationship and thus, had to manage their patients' reactions to preserve the therapeutic relationship. They used strategies that created shifts in perception in both themselves and their patients to help maintain the therapeutic relationship. Participants often felt that they had to compromise their professional code of ethics to fulfil their mandatory reporting obligations. Thus, they experienced internal emotional battles when responding which led to some experiencing burnout or vicarious trauma and others resilience. This complex interplay of relationship and emotional management was placed in the context of emotional labour theory. We contend that our participants undertook emotional labour across three levels: internal, organisational and systemic. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that the emotional labour exerted in the response to child abuse can be diminished by: developing strategies for therapeutic relationship management; undertaking an internal, organisational and systemic values assessment; and facilitating communication between health professionals and the child protection system.
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    Tipping the Scales: Factors Influencing the Decision to Report Child Maltreatment in Primary Care
    Kuruppu, J ; McKibbin, G ; Humphreys, C ; Hegarty, K (SAGE PUBLICATIONS INC, 2020-04-07)
    Child maltreatment (CM) is an important public health issue linked to significant physical and mental health complications across the life span. Given the association between CM and health, general practitioners (GPs) and primary care nurses (PNs) are well-placed to identify and respond to this issue and are mandated to report suspected CM in many jurisdictions. Research has found that primary care doctors and nurses need support when responding to CM. This scoping review sought to answer the following question: What factors influence GPs and PNs decision to report CM when fulfilling their mandatory reporting duty? By exploring these factors, areas where support is needed were pinpointed. A systematic search was run across four databases: Medline (Ovid), PsycINFO, Embase, and CINAHL. Articles that reported on studies conducted in a location that had mandatory reporting legislation specific to CM and had a study population sampled from primary care were included in analysis. Thirty-three articles met the inclusion criteria. This review found that four principal factors influenced the decision to report CM: personal threshold of suspicion of abuse, relationship with the family, faith in the child protection system, and education and discussion. We conclude that improving the support and training to address these four areas may be beneficial for GPs and PNs in responding to CM.
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    An online healthy relationship tool and safety decision aid for women experiencing intimate partner violence (I-DECIDE): a randomised controlled trial
    Hegarty, K ; Tarzia, L ; Valpied, J ; Murray, E ; Humphreys, C ; Taft, A ; Novy, K ; Gold, L ; Glass, N (ELSEVIER SCI LTD, 2019-06-01)
    BACKGROUND: Evidence for online interventions to help women experiencing intimate partner violence is scarce. We assessed whether an online interactive healthy relationship tool and safety decision aid (I-DECIDE) would increase women's self-efficacy and improve depressive symptoms compared with an intimate partner violence information website. METHODS: In this two-group pragmatic randomised controlled trial, we enrolled women who had screened positive for any form of intimate partner violence or fear of a partner in the 6 months before recruitment. Women aged 16-50 years currently residing in Australia, who had safe access to a computer and an internet connection, and who answered positively to one of the screening questions in English were eligible for inclusion. Participants were randomly assigned (1:1) by computer to receive either the intervention or control website. The intervention website consisted of modules on healthy relationships, abuse and safety, and relationship priority setting, and a tailored action plan. The control website was a static intimate partner violence information website. As the initial portion of the website containing the baseline questions was identical for both groups, there was no way for women to tell which group they had been allocated to, and the research team were also masked to participant allocation until after analysis of the 12-month data. Data were collected at baseline, immediately after completion of the website, at 6 months, and 12 months. Primary outcomes were mean general self-efficacy score (immediately after website completion, and at 6 months and 12 months) and mean depression score (at 6 months and 12 months). Data analyses were done according to intention-to-treat principles, accounting for missing data, and adjusted for outcome baseline scores. This trial was registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, ACTRN 12614001306606. FINDINGS: Between Jan 16, and Aug 28, 2015, 584 patients registered for the study and were assessed for eligibility. 422 eligible participants were randomly allocated to the intervention group (227 patients) or control group (195 patients). 179 (79%) participants in the intervention group and 156 (80%) participants in the control group completed 12-month follow-up. Mean self-efficacy at 6 months and 12 months was lower for participants in the intervention group than for participants in the control group, although this did not meet the prespecified mean difference (6 months: 27·5 [SD 5·1] vs 28·1 [4·4], imputed mean difference 1·3 [95% CI 0·3 to 2·3]; 12 months: 27·8 [SD 5·4] vs 29·0 [5·0], imputed mean difference 1·6 [95% CI 0·5 to 2·7]). We found no difference between groups in depressive symptoms at 6 months or 12 months (6 months: 22·5 [SD 17·1] vs 24·2 [17·2], imputed mean difference -0·3 [95% CI -3·5 to 3·0]; 12 months: 21·9 [SD 19·3] vs 21·5 [19·3], imputed mean difference -1·9 [95% CI -5·6 to 1·7]). Qualitative findings indicated that participants found the intervention supportive and a motivation for action. INTERPRETATION: Our findings highlight the need for further research, development, and refinement of online interventions for women experiencing intimate partner violence, particularly into the duration needed for interventions. Although we detected no meaningful differences between groups, our qualitative results indicated that some women find an online tool a helpful source of motivation and support. FUNDING: Australian Research Council.
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    Health practitioners' perceptions of structural barriers to the identification of intimate partner abuse: a qualitative meta-synthesis
    Hudspeth, N ; Cameron, J ; Baloch, S ; Tarzia, L ; Hegarty, K (BMC, 2022-01-22)
    BACKGROUND: Health care practitioners (HCPs) play a critical role in identifying and responding to intimate partner abuse (IPA). Despite this, studies consistently demonstrate a range of barriers that prevent HCPs from effectively identifying and responding to IPA. These barriers can occur at the individual level or at a broader systems or organisational level. In this article, we report the findings of a meta-synthesis of qualitative studies focused on HCPs' perceptions of the structural or organisational barriers to IPA identification. METHODS: Seven databases were searched to identify English-language studies published between 2012 and 2020 that used qualitative methods to explore the perspectives of HCPs in relation to structural or organisational barriers to identifying IPA. Two reviewers independently screened the articles. Findings from the included studies were analysed using Thomas and Hardin's method of using a thematic synthesis and critiqued using the Critical Appraisal Skills Program tool for qualitative studies and the methodological component of the GRADE-CERQual. RESULTS: Forty-three studies conducted in 22 countries informed the review. Eleven HCP settings were represented. Three themes were developed that described the structural barriers experienced by HCPs: The environment works against us (limited time with patients, lack of privacy); Trying to tackle the problem on my own (lack of management support and a health system that fails to provide adequate training, policies and response protocols and resources), Societal beliefs enable us to blame the victim (normalisation of IPA, only presents in certain types of women, women will lie or are not reliable). CONCLUSION: This meta-synthesis highlights the need for structural change to address these barriers. These include changing health systems to enable more time and to improve privacy, training, policies, and referral protocols. On a broader level IPA in health systems is currently not seen as a priority in terms of global burden of disease, mortality and morbidity and community attitudes need to address blaming the victim.
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    Personal barriers to addressing intimate partner abuse: a qualitative meta-synthesis of healthcare practitioners' experiences
    Tarzia, L ; Cameron, J ; Watson, J ; Fiolet, R ; Baloch, S ; Robertson, R ; Kyei-Onanjiri, M ; McKibbin, G ; Hegarty, K (BMC, 2021-06-09)
    BACKGROUND: Healthcare practitioners (HCPs) play a crucial role in recognising, responding to, and supporting female patients experiencing intimate partner abuse (IPA). However, research consistently identifies barriers they perceive prevent them from doing this work effectively. These barriers can be system-based (e.g. lack of time or training) or personal/individual. This review of qualitative evidence aims to synthesise the personal barriers that impact HCPs' responses to IPA. METHODS: Five databases were searched in March 2020. Studies needed to utilise qualitative methods for both data collection and analysis and be published between 2010 and 2020 in order to qualify for inclusion; however, we considered any type of healthcare setting in any country. Article screening, data extraction and methodological appraisal using a modified version of the Critical Appraisal Skills Program checklist for qualitative studies were undertaken by at least two independent reviewers. Data analysis drew on Thomas and Harden's thematic synthesis approach. RESULTS: Twenty-nine studies conducted in 20 countries informed the final review. A variety of HCPs and settings were represented. Three themes were developed that describe the personal barriers experienced by HCPs: I can't interfere (which describes the belief that IPA is a "private matter" and HCPs' fears of causing harm by intervening); I don't have control (highlighting HCPs' frustration when women do not follow their advice); and I won't take responsibility (which illuminates beliefs that addressing IPA should be someone else's job). CONCLUSION: This review highlights the need for training to address personal issues in addition to structural or organisational barriers. Education and training for HCPs needs to: encourage reflection on their own values to reinforce their commitment to addressing IPA; teach HCPs to relinquish the need to control outcomes so that they can adopt an advocacy approach; and support HCPs' trust in the critical role they can play in responding. Future research should explore effective ways to do this within the context of complex healthcare organisations.
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    Exploring the knowledge translation of domestic violence research: A literature review
    Cameron, J ; Humphreys, C ; Kothari, A ; Hegarty, K (WILEY, 2020-07-02)
    There is growing recognition of the links between knowledge translation, policy and practice, particularly in the domestic violence research area. A literature review applying a systematic approach with a realist lens was the preferred methodology. The review answered the following question: What are the mechanisms of change in research networks which 'work' to support knowledge translation? A search of eight electronic databases for articles published between 1960 and 2018 was completed, with 2,999 records retrieved, 2,869 records excluded and 130 full-text articles screened for final inclusion in the review. The inclusion criteria were purposefully broad, including any study design or data source (including grey literature) with a focus on domestic violence knowledge translation. The analysis of included studies using a realist lens identified the mechanisms of change to support knowledge translation. A disaggregation of the included studies identified five theories focused on the following outcomes: (1) develop key messages, (2) flexible evidence use, (3) strengthen partnerships, (4) capacity building and (5) research utilisation. This review adds to our understanding of knowledge translation of domestic violence research. The mechanisms of change identified may support knowledge translation of research networks. Further research will focus on exploring the potential application of these program theories with a research network.
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    Enhanced maternal and child health nurse care for women experiencing intimate partner/family violence: protocol for MOVE, a cluster randomised trial of screening and referral in primary health care
    Taft, AJ ; Small, R ; Humphreys, C ; Hegarty, K ; Walter, R ; Adams, C ; Agius, P (BMC, 2012-09-20)
    BACKGROUND: Intimate partner violence (IPV) can result in significant harm to women and families and is especially prevalent when women are pregnant or recent mothers. Maternal and child health nurses (MCHN) in Victoria, Australia are community-based nurse/midwives who see over 95% of all mothers with newborns. MCHN are in an ideal position to identify and support women experiencing IPV, or refer them to specialist family violence services. Evidence for IPV screening in primary health care is inconclusive to date. The Victorian government recently required nurses to screen all mothers when babies are four weeks old, offering an opportunity to examine the effectiveness of MCHN IPV screening practices. This protocol describes the development and design of MOVE, a study to examine IPV screening effectiveness and the sustainability of screening practice. METHODS/DESIGN: MOVE is a cluster randomised trial of a good practice model of MCHN IPV screening involving eight maternal and child health nurse teams in Melbourne, Victoria. Normalisation Process Theory (NPT) was incorporated into the design, implementation and evaluation of the MOVE trial to enhance and evaluate sustainability. Using NPT, the development stage combined participatory action research with intervention nurse teams and a systematic review of nurse IPV studies to develop an intervention model incorporating consensus guidelines, clinical pathway and strategies for individual nurses, their teams and family violence services. Following twelve months' implementation, primary outcomes assessed include IPV inquiry, IPV disclosure by women and referral using data from MCHN routine data collection and a survey to all women giving birth in the previous eight months. IPV will be measured using the Composite Abuse Scale. Process and impact evaluation data (online surveys and key stakeholders interviews) will highlight NPT concepts to enhance sustainability of IPV identification and referral. Data will be collected again in two years. DISCUSSION: MOVE will be the first randomised trial to determine IPV screening effectiveness in a community based nurse setting and the first to examine sustainability of an IPV screening intervention. It will further inform the debate about the effectiveness of IPV screening and describe IPV prevalence in a community based post-partum and early infant population. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ACTRN12609000424202.
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    Beyond Voice: Conceptualizing Children's Agency in Domestic Violence Research Through a Dialogical Lens
    Morris, A ; Humphreys, C ; Hegarty, K (SAGE PUBLICATIONS INC, 2020-10-14)
    Children who live in households where domestic violence is occurring have been variously described in the literature over time as silent witnesses, witnesses, a cohort who is “exposed” to the violence, and more recently, as individual victim survivors and active agents in their own right, each with their own lived experience of violence. Research methodologies in this arena have shifted from adult-focused measurements of the impacts of domestic violence on children to more qualitative attempts to understand the experience from the child’s perspective. In doing so, there have been notions of giving “voice to the voiceless” and doing no further harm through a desire to protect children from exposure. However, the relational framing of children’s voices and recognition and enabling of children’s agency is less evolved in research and professional interventions. A study undertaken in Australia researched with a primary care population of 23 children and 18 mothers, children’s experiences of safety and resiliency in the context of domestic violence. The findings of the research were realized using qualitative research methods with children and the analytical framing of hermeneutical phenomenology, ethics of care and in particular dialogical ethics, to draw practical understanding and application in health care settings. This article aims to demonstrate how the analytical methodology chosen was applied in the research process and reveals the elements required for children to experience agency in navigating their relationships in an unsafe world, while learning about themselves. It draws upon understandings of the child’s relational context and introduces a model of children’s agency, which may have applicability for domestic violence policy and practice settings.