Social work in the emergency department - implementation of a domestic and family violence screening program

Charmaine Power, Laura Bahnisch, Debbie McCarthy

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)


    Women who have experienced domestic and family violence use health services more frequently than women who have not. Early identification and intervention by the health system may reduce health problems associated with domestic and family violence and lead to savings for the health sector. This study aimed to evaluate the impact of a new domestic and family violence screening program, which was based on an ecological model and introduced by a social work team in the Emergency Department of a major metropolitan hospital. The evaluation method included an audit of social work case files to assess the effect on referral rates and a survey of Emergency Department staff to obtain perceptions of the impact of the program on the staff and clients. In the 3-month period following the introduction of the program, the rate of referral to social work increased by 213%. Staff agreed that the Emergency Department is an appropriate place to ask about domestic and family violence, under certain conditions. Findings suggest that an ecological social work model provides an approach to screening for domestic and family violence that not only contributes to increased identification and supportive client interventions but may also contribute to more sustainable systemic change.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)537-554
    Number of pages18
    JournalAustralian Social Work
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


    • Domestic and Family Violence
    • Ecological Framework
    • Emergency Department
    • Hospital
    • Screening
    • Social Work


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