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Intimate partner violence is a common occurrence in Australian society
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a common occurrence in Australian society, with far-reaching health, social and economic implications.
The victims of IPV requiring medical care are often first assisted by paramedics before they reach hospital.
Yet paramedics have generally received little or no training in assisting these people, a new study has found.
The study is published in the latest issue of Emergency Medicine Australasia, the journal of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine.
According to one of the researchers, Dr Brett Williams from the Department of Community Emergency Health and Paramedic Practice at Monash University, over the past 20 years the international literature has repeatedly highlighted this issue and yet Australian research has stagnated in both the pre-hospital recognition and management of IPV.
Dr Williams and his colleagues studied 50 paramedics in the ACT on their frequency of attending IPV cases, their knowledge of IPV, and their perceived preparedness for IPV cases.
“We found that 90% of participants had responded to at least one IPV case in the preceding year, with an average of 3.66 cases.
“Notably, none of the paramedics sampled used any IPV screening tools, and therefore were likely to have suspected IPV only where it was overt.
“Victims of IPV will not always volunteer the true cause of their trauma and may even attempt to hide the fact.
“Thus there is significant underreporting in such data.
“Also, we found two-thirds of participating paramedics were unaware of the lack of mandatory reporting legislation in their state, and almost four in every five reported feeling less than confident in managing IPV cases.”
Dr Williams said the results of their study suggest that paramedics are not currently equipped to deal with this particular category of patients that they regularly encounter.
“In the light of the insidious nature of the trauma suffered by such patients, it is surprising that action in the form of education and awareness has not been conducted sooner.
“Preparing paramedics with the appropriate attitude, knowledge, and skills to effectively deal with victims of IPV to the same extent as those provided for the management of road trauma, will assist paramedics to better care for these patients.”
The researchers said a VicHealth study published in 2004 found that, among Victorian women aged 15-45 , IPV is responsible for more ill-health and premature death than any other of the well-known risk factors, including high blood pressure, obesity, and smoking.
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