Nurses are three times more likely to have experienced domestic abuse in the last year than the average person, according to research for a nursing charity.
A report by the Cavell Nurses’ Trust said that 14% of nurses had experienced domestic abuse in the past year, compared with 4.4% of people nationally.
“I was very distressed to read the findings of this report”
The report also revealed that 2.2% of nurses had been injured as a result of domestic violence in the last year.
According to the National Centre for the Study and Prevention of Violence and Abuse, one of the many, complex reasons nurses were experiencing higher levels of domestic abuse could be because of the values they uphold in their daily roles, such as care, compassion and courage.
Claire Richards, an expert from the NCSPVA, which is based at the University of Worcester, said: “The values that nurses adhere to in their career – including the ‘six Cs’ of nursing – care, compassion, competence, communication, courage, commitment – may increase the likelihood of them staying with an abusive partner for reasons of altruism or a possible belief their partner needs them.
“Nurses may see their partner’s behaviour as part of a wider problem, such as depression, unemployment or a drink problem that they seek to treat or heal,” she suggested.
The trust’s report – Skint, shaken yet still caring. But who is caring for our nurses? – is based on findings from a survey of more than 2,200 nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants.
“Nurses may see their partner’s behaviour as part of a wider problem… that they seek to treat or heal”
The charity, which gives money and support to nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants facing a crisis, commissioned the survey to gauge the quality of life of nursing professionals.
The findings also revealed that nursing staff were also twice as likely to be unable to afford basic necessities than the average person.
In addition, it found more than two in five nurses had a physical or mental health condition that was expected to last longer than a year.
Dame Christine Beasley, former chief nursing officer for England and a patron of the Cavell Nurses’ Trust, said: “I was very distressed to read the findings of this report.
“We already know that some frontline nurses face abuse from patients. To learn that some are also facing abuse in their personal lives is shocking,” she said.
Simon Knighton, chair of the Cavell Nurses’ Trust, added: “Nurses are giving their all to care for their patients. Then behind closed doors, one in seven of these nurses is experiencing domestic abuse – this is both shocking and appalling.
“It’s especially worrying when you consider the vast number of nurses already suffering verbal or physical abuse at work,” he said. “On top of this, too many nurses are struggling to make ends meet and are living life in discomfort due to long-term illness.”
The charity has produced action packs for both the public and nursing professionals to help more people access its support.
Key findings from the research
- Nurses, midwives and HCAs are three times more likely to have experienced domestic abuse by a partner or ex-partner in the last year than the average person (14% compared with 4.4% nationally)
- One in every seven nurses, midwives and HCAs has experienced domestic abuse by a partner or ex-partner in the past year (14%)
- One in 50 nurses, midwives and HCAs has been injured as a result of domestic violence by a partner or ex-partner in the last year (2.2%)
- Nurses and midwives are nearly twice as likely as the average person to be unable to afford basic necessities. HCAs are nearly three times as likely to be unable to afford basic necessities
- One in five nurses, midwives and HCAs has been forced to skip meals in the last year because of financial difficulties (18.4%)
- One in two nurses, midwives and HCAs (48%) can’t afford to keep their homes in a decent state of repair. This is more than double the number seen among the general population (19%)
- More than two in five (42.5%) have a physical or mental health condition expected to last longer than a year
- Nurses, midwives and HCAs are 25% more likely than the average person to report having long-lasting physical or mental health conditions or illnesses (42.5% v 34.0%)
- Only 1 in 5 nurses, midwives and HCA’s consider their health to be very good compared to 1 in 3 people in the general population (21.1% v 31%)
The online survey of 2,254 nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants was conducted by Word of Mouth Research between 18 July and 25 August 2016.