Original Research

Emergency nurses’ ways of coping influence their ability to empower women to move beyond the oppression of intimate partner violence

Annatjie van der Wath, Neltjie van Wyk, Elsie Janse van Rensburg
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 8, No 2 | a957 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v8i2.957 | © 2016 Annatjie van der Wath, Neltjie van Wyk, Elsie Janse van Rensburg | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 July 2015 | Published: 15 April 2016

About the author(s)

Annatjie van der Wath, Department of Nursing Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Neltjie van Wyk, Department of Nursing Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Elsie Janse van Rensburg, Department of Health Studies, University of South Africa, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Millennium Developmental Goal 3 (MDG 3) aims at enhancing gender equity and empowerment of women. Emergency nurses who often encounter women injured by their intimate partners are at risk of developing vicarious traumatisation, which may influence their ability to empower women to move beyond the oppression of intimate partner violence.

Aim: This article aims to, (1) describe emergency nurses’ ways of coping with the exposure to survivors of intimate partner violence, and (2) recommend a way towards effective coping that will enhance emergency nurses’ abilities to empower women to move beyond the oppression of intimate partner violence to contribute to the achievement of MDG 3.

Setting: The study was conducted in emergency units of two public hospitals in an urban setting in South Africa.

Method: A qualitative design and descriptive phenomenological method was used. Emergency nurses working in the setting were purposively sampled and interviewed. The data were analysed by searching for the essence and meaning attached to the exposure of emergency nurses to survivors of intimate partner violence.

Results: Emergency nurses’ coping responses were either aimed at avoiding or dealing with their exposure to survivors of intimate partner violence. Coping aimed at dealing with the exposure included seeking support, emotion regulation and accommodative coping.

Conclusion: Emergency nurses employ either effective or ineffective ways of coping. Less effective ways of coping may increase their risk of vicarious and secondary traumatisation, which in turn may influence their ability to empower women to move beyond the oppression of intimate partner violence.


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