Understanding attitudes and perceptions of nurses and medical doctors on providing intimate partner violence screening at Katutura Hospital, Namibia
Mukulu, Martin Ndakalako
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This qualitative, explorative study aimed to explore the attitudes and perceptions of nurses and medical doctors at frontline services units of the Katutura Intermediate Hospital in Windhoek, Namibia, in providing intimate partner violence (IPV) screening during routine care. Frontline services were selected because that is where most of the patients come into contact with nurses and medical doctors for the first time, making this the first point of care contact at this referral hospital. The researcher conducted in-depth interviews with purposively selected sample of 18 nurses and six medical doctors employed at frontline services units of the hospital. All the respondents concurred that IPV was prevalent in Namibia, as evidenced by the daily hospital records. Respondents admitted that the Casualty Section of the Katutura Hospital was the busiest section at the hospital, and that incident and cases of IPV were recorded there every hour, especially from Thursday through the weekend and on public holidays, as victims seek treatment for their resultant injuries. Most of the respondents expressed concern about their inability to screen for IPV during routine care due to a lack of time. Many respondents believed, however, that screening for IPV was the responsibility of social workers and not necessarily that of nurses and medical doctors. Others believed that a lack of skills among hospital staff to screen for IPV as well as staff shortages and work overload were some of the factors preventing staff from performing screening. The study found that IPV cases were prevalent at the Katutura Intermediate Hospital, and that there was ambivalence about IPV screening and reporting among the staff who participated in the study. Some of the nurses and medical doctors who participated in the study saw IPV as a nonclinical and social issue and believed that it was the responsibility of social workers, while others felt that they might be able to do something about it but were hampered by factors such as staff shortages, a lack of privacy and work overload. The researcher recommends further research on the attitudes and perceptions of senior management and patients towards IPV screening.