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Students lack the confidence to deal with domestic abuse

Undergraduate nursing and midwifery training should include education about domestic abuse, say UK researchers.

Between May and November 2014, researchers at the University of Birmingham and University of Manchester conducted eight focus groups involving 32 third-year midwifery students and 23 third-year nursing students – 16 of whom were studying adult nursing , four child and three mental health.

To enable discussion, the students were asked a series of questions, including ‘what do you understand about the term domestic abuse?’ and ‘while on placement, have you encountered any people who have experienced domestic abuse?’.

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The researchers found that most of the students felt unprepared to deal with domestic abuse – they had theoretical knowledge of it, but lacked confidence in recognising and responding to abuse.

The students said interactive learning opportunities with patients and service users, as well as experts from clinical practice, were important educational requirements.

‘Domestic abuse is an unsettling topic and can panic students,’ the authors said. ‘In the absence of preparation, students are left not knowing how to respond. Including domestic abuse in undergraduate nursing curricula is a must.’

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