Preparing health practitioners to deal with family violence

June 16, 2020

A world-first framework that identifies a health practitioner's readiness to address family violence has been developed in a University of Melbourne-led study funded by the Safer Families Centre.

The model identifies Commitment, Advocacy, Trust, Collaboration, and Health system support (CATCH) as vital in building readiness to deal with family violence. CATCH themes reflect factors that health practitioners felt they needed to be confident about providing sensitive care for survivors.

Experts say the development is timely given the surge in reported family violence incidents during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has also seen a move to telehealth sessions for those seeking professional help.

The lead researcher, Professor Kelsey Hegarty from the University of Melbourne and Royal Women's Hospital, said the CATCH model allowed training and systems to tailor strategies to enable greater readiness to deal with family violence.

"We hope that this will change the way we prepare practitioners for this important role, in Australia and globally," Professor Hegarty said.

"The CATCH model could also prove timely during and following the COVID-19 crisis, as survivors may only be able to see health practitioners during movement restrictions."

Published in PLOS ONE journal, the qualitative meta-synthesis of 47 studies identifies five themes involved in readiness of health practitioners to address family violence.

Co-lead Dr Gemma McKibbin said these factors involved health practitioners having a personal commitment, adopting an advocacy approach, trusting the relationship in the health setting, collaborating with a team, and being supported by the health system.

"It is fundamental that health practitioners are ready to identify and respond to family violence," Dr McKibbin said. "Health practitioners may be the first people to 'name' family violence for victims, which can influence the entire trajectory of women and their children's journey to recovery."

The analysis involved the University of Melbourne, Auckland University of Technology, the University of Bristol, La Trobe University, which are all involved with the Safer Families Centre. It found major gaps remained in knowledge about how best to support and train health practitioners to enable an evidence-based pathway to safety for those experiencing family violence through the health system.

Interview and focus group data was drawn from health practitioners across emergency medicine, primary care, intensive care, obstetrics/gynaecology, maternal and child health, family planning, prenatal and antenatal medicine, mental health, orthopaedics, paediatrics, dentistry, and allied health.

The researchers found a 'ready' health practitioner was motivated to make a difference, knew how to advocate, and felt they were likely to succeed. They also had received encouraging feedback, worked with others and were strongly supported with ongoing training, clinical protocols, tools, and health system leadership.

Professor Hegarty said the model was comprehensive and could improve training in this space.

"Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that health professionals are well equipped to deal with family violence," Professor Hegarty said.

"This could improve survivors' experience within the health system and their overall outcomes."

Most of the studies were from high income countries such as Australia, Canada, the USA, and parts of Europe. Researchers say more work needs to be done in low and middle income countries.

University of Melbourne

Related Mental Health Articles from Brightsurf:

Mental health strained by disaster
A new study found that suicide rates increase during all types of disasters -- including severe storms, floods, hurricanes and ice storms -- with the largest overall increase occurring two years after a disaster.

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff.

World Mental Health Day -- CACTUS releases report of largest researcher mental health survey
On the occasion of 'World Mental Health Day' 2020, CACTUS, a global scientific communications company, has released a global survey on mental health, wellbeing and fulfilment in academia.

Mental illness, mental health care use among police officers
A survey study of Texas police officers examines how common mental illness and mental health care use are in a large urban department.

COVID-19 outbreak and mental health
The use of online platforms to guide effective consumption of information, facilitate social support and continue mental health care delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic is discussed in this Viewpoint.

COVID-19 may have consequences for mental health
The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be adversely affecting mental health among hospitalised patients, the healthcare professionals treating them and the general population.

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Mental ill health 'substantial health concern' among police, finds international study
Mental health issues among police officers are a 'substantial health concern,' with around 1 in 4 potentially drinking at hazardous levels and around 1 in 7 meeting the criteria for post traumatic stress disorder and depression, finds a pooled data analysis of the available international evidence, published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Examining health insurance nondiscrimination policies with mental health among gender minority individuals
A large private health insurance database was used to examine the association between between health insurance nondiscrimination policies and mental health outcomes for gender minority individuals.

Mental health care for adolescents
Researchers examined changes over time in the kinds of mental health problems for which adolescents in the United States received care and where they got that care in this survey study with findings that should be interpreted within the context of several limitations including self-reported information.

Read More: Mental Health News and Mental Health Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to