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ISRN Nursing
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 486273, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.5402/2012/486273
Research Article

Nurses’ Role in Caring for Women Experiencing Intimate Partner Violence in the Sri Lankan Context

Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing, Ryerson University, 350 Victoria Street, Toronto, ON, Canada M5B 2K3

Received 10 May 2012; Accepted 20 June 2012

Academic Editors: J. D. Allan and S. Keeney

Copyright © 2012 Sepali Guruge. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Intimate partner violence has short- and long-term physical and mental health consequences. As the largest healthcare workforce globally, nurses are well positioned to care for abused women. However, their role in this regard has not been researched in some countries. This paper is based on a qualitative study that explored how Sri Lankan nurses perceive their role in caring for women who have experienced partner violence. Interviews with 30 nurses who worked in diverse clinical and geographical settings in Sri Lanka revealed that nurses’ role involved: identifying abuse, taking care of patients’ physical needs, attending to their safety, providing support and advice, and making referrals. Barriers to providing care included lack of knowledge; heavy workload; language barriers; threats to personal safety; nurses’ status within the healthcare hierarchy; and lack of communication and collaboration between various stakeholder groups within the healthcare system. Nurses also identified a lack of appropriate services and support within hospitals and in the community. The findings reveal an urgent need for the healthcare system to respond to nurses’ educational and training needs and help them function autonomously within multidisciplinary teams when caring for abused women. The findings also point to a need to address institutional barriers including the lack of appropriate services for abused women.