Addressing violence against women during the pandemic

PAHO/WHOCC creates domestic violence resources for health care providers

By Erica Techo

One in three women worldwide has experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime, according to global estimates. During the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic violence cases increased 25-33 percent globally, according to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine.

Health care providers have an opportunity to assess risk, provide support and suggest resources, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Center (PAHO/WHOCC) has created a new online course to educate and inform care providers.

The course, titled “Violence against women during COVID-19,” is free, distance accessible, self-paced and available on demand. It consists of four online modules designed to equip primary health care professionals in Latin America and the Caribbean to care for women suffering from domestic violence during a turbulent time.

“Domestic violence against women is a long-standing global health problem that frontline health care providers must recognize early on and tackle when caring for and communicating with vulnerable patients,” said Professor, Director of Global Partnerships, and Co-Director of the PAHO/WHOCC for International Nursing Adelais Markaki, PhD, RN, FAAN. “Increased stress, anxiety and tensions, brought on by the prolonged isolation and economic hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic, have created the conditions for a perfect storm. As a result, the incidence of domestic violence across the Americas has grown exponentially, bringing the need for trauma-informed care to the forefront.”

This course prepares primary care nurses, midwives, physicians, social workers and psychologists to navigate trauma-informed care for victims and survivors of domestic violence and sex trafficking. Based on the WHO Framework for Action on Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice, course content focuses on prevention, screening, early detection and referral of women at risk for or subject to domestic abuse.

It was created by an expert team of UAB School of Nursing faculty, including Professor of Nursing Patricia Speck, DNSc, CRNP, FNP-BC, DF-IAFN, DF-AFN, FAAFS, FAAN; Professor and Director for Clinical Placement Ashley Hodges, PhD, CRNP, WHNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN (MSN 1997, PhD 2008); and retired Assistant Professor Grace Grau, DNP, CRNP, ACNP-BC, AACC (DNP 2015). The School’s Office of Technology and Innovation provided the instructional design. The course is available through the UAB eLearning and Professional Studies platform in English and Spanish.

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