The study, in which staff at Stockholm South General Hospital (Södersjukhuset) participated, also found that one in ten emergency room staffers don’t believe healthcare workers have a responsibility to investigate how a woman’s injuries occurred.
“The study shows that we still have a lot of work to do in terms of people’s attitudes,” Maaret Castrén, a professor in emergency medicine who works with clinical research and training at Stockholm South General, told Sveriges Radio (SR).
Every year, between 15 and 20 women are killed by their partners in Sweden and roughly half of those victims had sought care in the Swedish health system for previous abuse.
In Sweden, hospital emergency rooms are often the first – and sometimes only – point of contact for abused women in the Swedish healthcare system, according to SR.
But a new study, which included responses from 217 emergency room workers, most of whom work at Stockholm South General Hospital, has raised concerns about how healthcare workers view female abuse victims and the role the workers play in supporting them.
“I was somewhat surprised that it’s still considered not to be our job to investigate the cause of women’s injuries and that people still think that women’s behaviour in some way gives a man the right to hit them,” Castrén told SR.
According to Castrén, there isn’t enough emphasis placed on the issue, either during on-the-job training at the hospital, or in basic medical education.
Professor Gun Heimer, head of the Centre for Knowledge on Men’s Violence Against Women (Nationellt centrum för kvinnofrid – NCK) at Uppsala University, told SR that the study is in line with results from studies conducted in other countries.
She added, however, that Sweden should have come farther than other countries in training healthcare workers about violence against women and that the results of the study shows the need for additional measures.
“What’s important with the study is that the results are highlighted and we can see that this is how things are and now we have to be better,” she told SR.