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Keywords:

  • children's exposure;
  • home visitation;
  • intimate partner violence;
  • mandatory reporting;
  • Nurse–Family Partnership;
  • nurses;
  • pregnancy

Abstract

Aim

To examine nurse home visitors' perceived awareness of reporting requirements for intimate partner violence during pregnancy and children's exposure to such violence.

Background

Many home visitation programmes employ nurses to deliver prenatal and parenting education and services to pregnant women and mothers. Although home visitors are responsible for reporting child maltreatment, the extent to which mandated reporting laws apply to intimate partner violence perpetrated against pregnant women and children's exposure varies considerably between jurisdictions.

Design

Cross-sectional descriptive survey design.

Methods

A web-based survey was sent to all home visitors in the Nurse-Family Partnership programme in April/May 2010. The survey contained two vignettes describing client disclosure of intimate partner violence when: (1) the client is pregnant; and (2) the client's child is in her arms during the violent episode. Participants were asked about perceived reporting requirements and factors that guide reporting decisions.

Findings

Approximately half of the target population returned completed surveys (n=532). Over a quarter of the sample believed that they were mandated to report abuse of a pregnant woman and two-thirds indicated awareness of a mandate to report when the child was in the mother's arms during the violence. Most nurses indicated that reporting decisions should be based on state law.

Conclusion

Nurse home visitors may believe that they are mandated to report children's exposure to intimate partner violence when the child is at risk of physical harm. Home visitation providers likely consider multiple factors when determining whether to report intimate partner violence and children's exposure to intimate partner violence.