Ms Melissa Loos, Social Work Educator at Westmead Hospital

November 15, 2016

The 2016 STOP Domestic Violence Conference will be held over 5-7 December at the Mercure Brisbane, QLD.  Ms Melissa Loos joins us at the conference and will present on the topic of Opening Pandora’s Box: Health Care Presentations of Sustained Head Neck and Facial Injuries Attributable to Domestic Violence’.

A hospital emergency department, is an entry point into the health care system used by many of the more severely abused women, who may be at risk for serious physical impairment or death. Four emergency departments in NSW Sydney, partnered to develop baseline data to determine the extent of women presenting with head, neck and facial injuries attributed to domestic and family violence. Among women presenting to emergency departments, unwitnessed head, neck and facial injuries are significant markers of domestic and family violence. Although there is a dearth of information on what constitutes effective interventions in emergency health care, there is a global consensus that health care professionals should know how to identify and provide first line support.

Ms Melissa Loos
Ms Melissa Loos

The primary aim of this study is to determine the extent and reasons for women presenting with head, neck and facial injuries attributed to domestic and family violence.  A secondary aim of the research study is to establish the practices of health practitioners in detecting and providing interventions to identified women.

Eight hundred medical records of women over the age of 18 are being data mined over a 12 month period. The participating investigators at the four sites, devised an inclusion injury criteria for the study. A sub-nest of head, neck and facial injuries are included in the retrospective data collection.

The preliminary research results indicate a number of emergent themes, including health care professionals inaccurately documenting assessments and interventions, low compliance of screening when suspicious incidences arise,ambiguous coding categorisation and limited evidence of health staff providing assistance other than exclusively medical examination. At the conclusion of the study, reported prevalence will be proposed for the health district. The results of the study will inform more specific research investigating domestic violence interventions and women’s needs when presenting to emergency health care.

Melissa Loos is a social work educator, employed at Westmead Hospital, Sydney, NSW. Melissa has worked for 23 years as a social worker, in paediatrics, mental health and adult acute care settings. Melissa has a keen interest in research, particularly educational and health care professionals response to domestic and family violence. Melissa has worked in private practice and published in health care journals. Melissa is completing her PHD at University of Sydney, the focus of her thesis is social work practices in emergency health care when women present with a history of domestic and family violence.

For more information on the 2016 STOP Domestic Violence Conference and to secure your registration, please visit the conference website.





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