Women's College Research Institute

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Study points out gaps in training for health professionals working with victims of violence

December 2014

Intimate partner violenceIntimate partner violence (IPV) occurs at alarming rates around the world and can result in negative health impacts for victims, who are mostly women. In Canada, more than 25 per cent of women experience this type of violence at some point in their lives.

In addition to potential physical injuries, women who experience IPV are at a greater risk of developing mental health and substance use problems. As well, women with mental health and substance use problems are at an increased risk of victimization.

“These issues co-occur frequently and in complex ways,” says Robin Mason, PhD, scientist at Women’s College Research Institute, “yet clinicians and frontline providers who work with women experiencing violence, mental illness or addictions lack the training to address these concurrent problems.”

So what do clinicians and frontline workers need to know in order to provide appropriate care to these women?

To answer this question, Mason and her colleague Susan O’Rinn conducted a review of articles, looking for evidence-based practices and the education and training required to implement them. 

They found that practices for managing women experiencing concurrent violence, mental health and substance use problems are still in their infancy. It was clear that more education and training is required to help frontline workers respond to these women’s needs, but that there is a lack of specific recommendations to guide the development of training curricula. The findings were published in Global Health Action.

“To try and address this gap, we developed the curriculum Making Connections: When Domestic Violence, Mental Health and Substance Use Problems Co-Occur,” says Mason.  “I’m happy to report that approximately 1,000 individuals from about 40 communities in Ontario have participated in the training thus far.”

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