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Open Access Research article

Barriers among Danish women and general practitioners to raising the issue of intimate partner violence in general practice: a qualitative study

Trine Mørk1*, Pernille Tanggaard Andersen2 and Ann Taket3

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Marketing and Organisation, Aarhus University, Bartholins Allé 10, 8000 Aarhus C, Aarhus, Denmark

2 Unit of Health Promotion Research, University of Southern Denmark, Niels Bohrs Vej 9, 6700 Esbjerg, Denmark

3 School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University, Melbourne Burwood Campus, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, VIC 3125, Australia

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BMC Women's Health 2014, 14:74  doi:10.1186/1472-6874-14-74

Published: 3 June 2014

Abstract

Background

Thirty-five percent of Danish women experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetime. However, health care professionals are not in the practice of asking about intimate partner violence (IPV) in Denmark. It is currently unknown what hinders general practitioners from asking about partner violence and how Danish women would perceive such an inquiry. This aspect has not previously been explored in Denmark. An exploratory study was conducted to examine what hinders general practitioners (GPs) from asking and what Danish women’s views and attitudes are regarding being asked about IPV.

Methods

Data were collected through individual and group interviews with a sample of three GPs and a diverse sample of 13 women, including both survivors of partner violence and those without any history of partner violence. An interpretative analysis was performed with the data.

Results

This study provides important knowledge regarding the barriers and attitudes towards inquiry about IPV in primary care in Denmark. Results indicate that Denmark is facing the same challenges when responding to survivors of IPV as other similar countries, including Sweden, Norway, the UK, USA, and Australia. Danish women want general practitioners to ask about violence in a respectful and non-judgemental manner. However, general practitioners are resistant towards such an inquiry and would benefit from training regarding how to respond to women who have been exposed to IPV.

Conclusions

It is acceptable to inquire about IPV with women in Denmark in a non-judgemental and respectful way. Informing about IPV prevalence is important prior to the inquiry. However, general practitioners require more awareness and training before a favourable environment for this change in procedure can be created. Further large-scale research is needed to support the evidence generated by this small study.

Keywords:
Intimate partner violence; Routine inquiry; General practitioners; Domestic violence; Social determinants of health; Partner violence