Women's expectations of healthcare professionals in case of intimate partner violence in Serbia

Bosiljka Djikanovic, Sylvie Lo Fo Wong, Snezana Stevanovic, Halime Celik, Antoine Lagro-Janssen
Women & Health 2011, 51 (7): 693-708
Women who have experienced intimate partner violence use health care services more often than non-abused women, but it is unclear what they expect from physicians in relation to their intimate partner violence experience. In this study the authors explored whether women in Serbia expect physicians to help them after having experienced intimate partner violence, what kind of help the women expected, and if none, why none is expected. The authors of this study conducted structured interviews with 120 women who visited six primary healthcare centres. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, while qualitative data were analyzed applying content analyses. The majority of women (81.7%) expected healthcare professionals to help them in the event of intimate partner violence, mainly through giving advice, information, contacting other institutions, services, and providing understanding and support. Fewer women expected help in the form of documenting violence and contacting police. Only a minority (8.3%) did not expect help, noting that intimate partner violence is beyond the scope of healthcare professionals' interest or competencies, and/or that violence was a private problem, while 10% were unsure about the role of physicians in the case of intimate partner violence. The majority of women in this study expected help with intimate partner violence. Physicians should be aware of these expectations and how to provide support to women experiencing intimate partner violence.

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