Author(s): Yam M
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Abstract INTRODUCTION: A plethora of studies describe helping professionals' responses to and actions directed toward battered women in the emergency department. However, research that yields data regarding the clients' perceptions about their actual experiences in the ED setting is sorely needed. The aim of this study was to describe battered women's perceptions of their ED experience. METHOD: A qualitative design, namely a phenomenologic approach, was used for this inquiry to enable the women to express themselves in their own voices. Informants were recruited from shelters for battered women. Women who had sought help for abuse-related injuries at a hospital emergency department within the past 12 months were asked to participate. Methods used to collect data were in-depth, individual, audiotaped interviews and demographic data sheets. Data analysis was conducted using Colaizzi's (1978) procedural steps. RESULTS: Several categories emerged as being descriptive of the women's perceptions of their ED experience. Themes identified included the women's feelings during the visit, such as fear of their partner, concern for children, and loneliness; the women's belief that the ED staff do not understand abuse; satisfaction with treatment of physical injuries but dissatisfaction with how the issue of abuse is managed; the difficulty of disclosing the abuse because of fear, embarrassment, and a lack of resources; and a request that health care professionals display compassion, provide referrals, and offer options. DISCUSSION: The women's narratives explicate their feelings during the ED visit and sensitize nurses to their experience. The reports of dissatisfaction with the care they received in the emergency department add to the validity of findings from previous studies that have documented similar results and point to the need to examine and reshape the delivery of care to abused women in the emergency department.
This article was published in J Emerg Nurs
and referenced in Journal of Forensic Research