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Nurse Training for Recognizing Domestic Violence Needed

Wednesday June 8, 2011
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A professor of nursing has put forth research citing the prevention of violence against mothers and children as a key to improving the United States’ poor ranking in life expectancy at birth.

Despite billions of dollars spent on healthcare each year, the U.S. ranks 27th out of 33 developed countries for life expectancy at birth, according to background information in research by Tina Bloom, RN, PhD, MPH, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing.

In published work, Bloom recommends training for healthcare providers to recognize signs of domestic violence and connect abused women with resources in their communities. She notes that a significant cause of infant mortality is complications related to pre-term birth or low birth-weight outcomes linked to domestic violence.

“Healthcare providers are not well trained to routinely screen or recognize the signs of domestic violence,” Bloom said in a university news release. “They don’t know how to ask about abuse, what to say or how to connect abused women with help. We need to engage with current students, our future healthcare providers, to bring this issue to the forefront.”

As a public health issue, Bloom said, maternal-child health and safety concerns go beyond the issue of domestic violence. Abused women also need access to resources for finding employment, affordable and safe housing, financial assistance, transportation and healthcare.

These factors heavily influence women’s responses to violence and the health outcomes of women and children, Bloom noted. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services cited these factors as social determinants of health in the report “Healthy People 2020,” a 10-year plan for improving the health of Americans (www.healthypeople.gov).

“Healthy mom produce healthy babies, and together they give rise to a healthy population,” Bloom said. “As a maternal-child health researcher, I am particularly pleased that the ‘Healthy People’ objectives have expanded to include injury and violence prevention for women and children and talk explicitly about these key social determinants of health.”

Bloom’s research focuses on intimate partner violence, maternal-child health and collaboration within communities to prevent violence. She is currently developing a web-based, interactive safety planning program to provide individualized guidance to a broad population of women in violent relationships.

Her article, “The Greatest Asset: Addressing Maternal-Child Health Disparities in the United States,” appears in the June issue of the Western Journal of Nursing Research. Access it at http://wjn.sagepub.com/content/current.


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