Putting the Pieces Together: How Public Health Nurses in Rural and Remote Canadian Communities Respond to Intimate Partner Violence


  • Judy Ann Hughes Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba




Intimate partner violence is a recognized public health problem with direct impacts, including cuts, bruises, and broken bones as well as longer-term effects, including headaches, insomnia, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and a greater likelihood of developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (Dutton, et al., 2006; Loxton, Scholfield, Hussain, & Mishra, 2006; Plichta, 2004; Romito, Molzan Turan, & Muarchi, 2005). As a result, women who experience IPV use a variety of health care services, including emergency departments, primary care physicians, and public health nurses (Campbell, 2002; Plichta, 2004; Van Hook, 2000).
Although rates of IPV identification vary by practice setting, the results suggest that utilization of these services by victims of IPV is common. For example, 13 percent of 1,526 women at 31 outpatient clinics were identified as victims of abuse (Wasson et al., 2000), as were 14 per cent of 2,465 women using a variety of obstetrician/gynecologist offices, emergency departments, primary care offices, pediatrics, and addition recovery (McCloskey, et al., 2005), and 44.3 percent of 399 women at one family medicine clinic (Peralta & Fleming, 2003). Given the prevalence of IPV in these settings, health care providers have a central role in dealing with immediate injuries and other health impacts of IPV. However, it is also crucial for these providers to appropriately identify and refer women to much needed community resources which may prevent further injury and support women in working toward reducing and eliminating violence in their lives. For victims of IPV who live in remote and rural communities, support offered by health care providers is more crucial, as there is often few other resources and services.