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Nurses' preparedness to care for women exposed to Intimate Partner Violence: a quantitative study in primary health care

Eva M Sundborg*, Nouha Saleh-Stattin, Per Wändell and Lena Törnkvist

Author affiliations

Center for Family and Community Medicine, Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institutet, Alfred Nobels allé 12, 145 60 Huddinge, Sweden

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Citation and License

BMC Nursing 2012, 11:1  doi:10.1186/1472-6955-11-1

Published: 10 January 2012



Intimate partner violence (IPV) has a deep impact on women's health. Nurses working in primary health care need to be prepared to identify victims and offer appropriate interventions, since IPV is often seen in primary health care. The aim of the study was to assess nurses' preparedness to identify and provide nursing care to women exposed to IPV who attend primary health care.


Data was collected using a questionnaire to nurses at the primary health care centres. The response rate was 69.3%. Logistic regression analysis was used to test relationships among variables.


Shortcomings were found regarding preparedness among nurses. They lacked organisational support e.g. guidelines, collaboration with others and knowledge regarding the extensiveness of IPV. Only half of them always asked women about violence and mostly when a woman was physically injured. They felt difficulties to know how to ask and if they identified violence they mostly offered the women a doctor's appointment. Feeling prepared was connected to obtaining knowledge by themselves and also to identifying women exposed to IPV.


The majority of the nurses were found to be quiet unprepared to provide nursing care to women exposed to IPV. Consequences might be treatment of symptoms but unidentified abuse and more and unnecessary suffering for these women. Improvements are needed on both at the level of the organisation and individual.