Australian ambulance services are currently attempting to improve their capacity to respond to intimate partner violence (IPV) patients, which is a significant contributing factor to the morbidity and mortality of women. Leading health organisations have called for increased training for frontline health care workers, however there is a paucity of literature on the current preparedness of Australian paramedics. A description of the preparedness of Australian paramedics to manage IPV patients has the potential to inform curricula and practice development.
We surveyed a cohort of qualified Australian paramedics using the modified Physician Readiness to Manage Intimate Partner Violence Survey.
We received 28 completed surveys (16.5% response rate), that revealed most respondents (89.3%) believed they had encountered IPV patients while working as a paramedic, yet only one participant reported comprehensive education or training on the management of such patients. Participants reported low knowledge and preparedness to manage IPV patients. Participant attitudes were poor for self-efficacy, confidence and preparation, and generally neutral for items regarding attitudes toward women and IPV patients.
This study adds to mounting evidence that paramedics frequently encounter IPV patients, have insufficient education and training, and are not prepared to manage such patients. While the results of this study should be interpreted with caution due to a low response rate and small sample, it appears that Australian paramedics would benefit from targeted educational packages that provide the necessary knowledge to recognise and refer patients, modify inappropriate or insufficient attitudes, and prepare paramedics to effectively manage IPV patients.
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