Nursing the Social Wound: Public Health Nurses' Experiences of Screening for Woman Abuse
Canadian Journal of Nursing Research
The purpose of this study was to describe the experiences of public health nurses (PHNs) who screen for woman abuse within their clinical practice. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with 11 PHNs. There was a great deal of variability in participants' level of experience in working with abused women. The results reveal that nurse readiness is an important factor in screening for woman abuse. The authors describe a number of steps participants appeared to grapple with in order to become comfortable working with abused women, including coming to terms with abuse, asking the question, bearing witness, and "walking with" the client. As the PHN became increasingly comfortable working with abused women, she came to redefine success. Her client's personal growth over time, rather than the single act of leaving an abusive relationship, now defined a successful client interaction. The authors also discuss implications for practice that arise from these accounts.