Intimate partner violence and the role of the emergency department nurse
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The purpose of this study was to examine the role of the registered nurse in the emergency setting as it relates to intimate partner violence. Specifically, the goals of this research were to identify how registered nurses screen for intimate partner violence in the emergency department, to identify barriers to screening, to determine how the registered nurse perceives effectiveness of such screening, to identify resources available to nurses and what resources are still needed, to determine how the nurse perceives victims of intimate partner violence, and to determine how the nurse perceives his or her role in assisting victims of intimate partner violence. This study was based on a Heideggerian phenomenological perspective. Thirteen registered nurses working in emergency departments in a mid-size county in the South Central United States were interviewed using a structured open-ended interview technique. Data were analyzed using Colaizzi's (1978) seven-step method of data analysis. Four main themes emerged: (1) myths, stereotypes, and fears; (2) demeanor; (3) frustrations; and (4) benefits. Myths, stereotypes, and fears refers to beliefs and preconceptions held by nurses related to victims of intimate partner violence and the dynamics of a violent relationship. Demeanor refers to behaviors or mannerisms of the person that alert the nurses to the need for intimate partner violence screening. Frustration, the feeling experienced by the nurse when victims of abuse do not respond as the nurse would like to their questions and interventions, was a universal theme throughout the interviews. Finally, the nurses interviewed did feel that their efforts could result in benefits, such as increased safety, to the patient. This study suggests that emergency department nurses are not screening for intimate partner violence based on a protocol but rather are screening certain patients for violence based on the nurse's perception of whether or not a particular patient is likely to be a victim of violence.