Recognising the co-occurance of domestic and child abuse: a comparison of community and hospital-based midwives

Anne Lazenbatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


This study aimed to compare and contrast how midwives working in either hospital or community settings are currently responding to the cooccurrence of domestic and child abuse (CA), their perceived role and willingness to identify abuse, record keeping, reporting of suspected or definite cases of CA and training received. A survey questionnaire was sent to 861 hospital and community midwives throughout Northern Ireland which resulted in 488 midwives completing the questionnaire, leading to a 57% response rate. Comparisons were made using descriptive statistics and cross-tabulation, and the questionnaire was validated using exploratory factor analysis. Community midwives reported receiving more training on domestic and CA. Although a high percent of both hospital and community midwives acknowledged a link between domestic violence (DV) and CA, it was the community midwives who encountered more suspected and definite (P <0.001) cases of CA. More community midwives reported to be aware of the mechanisms for reporting CA. However, an important finding is that although 12% of community midwives encountered a definite case of CA, only 2% reported the abuse, leaving a 10% gap between reporting and identifying definite cases of CA. Findings suggest that lack of education and training was a problem as only a quarter of hospital-based midwives reported to have received training on DV and 40% on CA. This was significantly less than that received by community midwives, as 57% received training on DV, and 62% on CA. The study suggests that midwives need training on how to interact with abused mothers using non-coercive, supportive and empowering mechanisms. Many women may not spontaneously disclose the issues of child or domestic abuse in their lives, but often respond honestly to a sensitively asked question. This issue is important as only 13% of the sample actually asked a woman a direct question about DV.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)358-370
Number of pages13
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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