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Is a clinician’s personal history of domestic violence associated with their clinical care of patients: a cross-sectional study
  1. Elizabeth McLindon1,2,
  2. Cathy Humphreys3,
  3. Kelsey Hegarty1,2
  1. 1 Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2 The Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3 Department of Social Work, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Ms Elizabeth McLindon; elizabeth.mclindon{at}


Objective To investigate whether domestic violence (DV) impacts on health professionals’ clinical care of DV survivor patients.

Design, setting Descriptive, cross-sectional study at an Australian tertiary maternity hospital.

Participants 471 participating female health professionals (45.0% response rate).

Outcome measures Using logistic and linear regression, we examined whether health professionals’ exposure to lifetime DV was associated with their clinical care on specific measures of training, attitudes, identification and intervention.

Results DV survivor health professionals report greater preparedness to intervene with survivor patients in a way that is consistent with ideal clinical care. This indicates that personal DV experience is not a barrier, and may be a facilitator, to clinical care of survivor patients.

Conclusions Health professionals are at the front line of identifying and responding to patients who have experienced DV. These findings provide evidence that survivor health professionals may be a strength to the healthcare organisations in which they work since among the participants in this study, they appear to be doing more of the work seen as better clinical care of survivor patients. We discuss the need for greater workplace supports aimed at promoting safety and recovery from violence and strengthening clinical practice with patients.

  • intimate partner violence
  • family violence
  • domestic violence
  • health professionals
  • clinical practice

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  • Contributors This manuscript is part of the doctoral work of EM. EM, KH and CH participated in the design of the study. EM was primarily responsible for all aspects of the work, including data collection and analysis, with KH contributing significantly to the data analysis. EM, KH and CH were all responsible for interpretation of the findings. EM wrote the manuscript, with important contributions during many reviews by KH and CH. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding The authors declare that no funding was directly received for this study. The only financial support for this project was a stipend for the doctoral work of the lead author, EM. The stipend scholarship titled, The Sidney Myer Health Scholarship, was generously provided by the Sidney Myer Fund. In addition, financial support was provided by the Zouki group of Companies through coffee vouchers they sold to the project at a reduced cost.

  • Disclaimer Neither the Sidney Myer Fund nor the Zouki group of Companies was involved in any aspect of designing the study, data collection, analysis or writing the manuscript. The authors have neither received financial support from any other organisation for the submitted work, nor have relationships or activities influenced the work.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by both the recruiting hospital and a University Human Research and Ethics Committee (Ethics ID: 1339986, dated 10 May 2013).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement At present, the data and materials (survey) are not publicly available but can be obtained from the authors upon request. The Composite Abuse Scale and Physician Readiness to Manage Intimate Partner Violence Survey are publicly available.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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