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Partner violence against women more prevalent

Friday 26 November

New study shows partner violence against women to be more prevalent

A new study of women treated in emergency wards shows the incidence of intimate partner violence against them is much higher than traditional surveys suggest.

Associate Professor Jane Koziol-McLain of Auckland University of Technology’s Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences will publish her findings in The New Zealand Medical Journal tomorrow.

Associate Professor Koziol-McLain says the study shows the rates of violence against women to be much higher than traditional population based studies.

“Partner violence is a significant public health problem for women in New Zealand. In this study, we asked women in an Auckland acute healthcare setting – adult and paediatric emergency care departments – whether they were physically or sexually abused in the past year or feeling unsafe due to a current or past partner.”

One in five women (21 per cent) responded affirmatively and 44 per cent reported partner violence at some time in their life.

During the study, trained research assistants asked eligible adult women, who were being treated at urban emergency care departments during randomly selected 4-hour time blocks, to participate in a study about violence between partners.

A structured interview was conducted that included a partner violence screen, identification of high risk, and lifetime prevalence. Culturally appropriate study protocols, in which the safety of women and children was paramount, were developed.

“A large proportion of women were willing to answer sensitive questions regarding partner violence during an emergency visit. Rates of partner violence among women seeking healthcare were significant, and consistent with rates reported internationally.”

Associate Professor Koziol-McLain says healthcare providers have an opportunity to identify and intervene to assist women exposed to abuse by a partner.

“Health providers and policy makers are in a strategic position to develop structures and processes to provide compassionate, supportive and culturally appropriate care to battered women and children, who are otherwise often isolated.”

Associate Professor Koziol-McLain says the research paves the way for recognition from government of the need for intervention and testing of solutions within the healthcare system.

“The study is one of a series addressing the issue that we believe will ensure violence against women remains a priority for policymakers.”

ENDS

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