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Open access

Saša Zorjan, Urška Smrke and Lilijana Šprah

Abstract

Background

Domestic violence is recognized as a public health problem with a high prevalence in the general population. Healthcare professionals play an important role in the recognition and treatment of domestic violence. Hence, conducting research on factors that facilitate or inhibit appropriate actions by healthcare professionals is of the upmost importance. The objective of the study was to examine the relationship between healthcare professionals’ attitudes toward the acceptability of domestic violence and their responses when dealing with victims of domestic violence.

Methods

The sample consisted of 322 healthcare professionals (physicians, dentists, nursing staff and other healthcare workers; 85.2% female), who completed a questionnaire, assessing their attitudes towards domestic violence, experience, behaviour and perceived barriers in recognizing and treating domestic violence in the health care sector. The study was cross-sectional and used availability sampling.

Results

The results showed no significant differences in domestic violence acceptability attitudes when comparing groups of healthcare professionals who reported low or high frequency of domestic violence cases encounters. Furthermore, we found that domestic violence acceptability attitudes were negatively associated with action taking when the frequency of encounters with domestic violence cases was high and medium. However, the attitudes were not associated with action taking when the frequency of encounters with domestic violence cases was low.

Conclusions

The results highlight the important role of attitudes in action taking of healthcare professionals when it comes to domestic violence. This indicates the need for educational interventions that specifically target healthcare professionals’ attitudes towards domestic violence.