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Staff experience and understanding of working with abused women suffering from mental illness

Tops, Dolf LU ; Saveman, B. -I. and Tops, D. (2009) In Health & Social Care in the Community 17(5). p.459-465
Abstract
The phenomenon of abused women with mental illness is often unrecognised by staff working within welfare services. This may be explained by staff members' attitudes, insecurity or lack of awareness. Today, there are shortcomings in the knowledge of staff members' experiences and interpretations of abuse against women suffering from mental illness. The aim of this qualitative study was to describe how staff members experience and understand their work with abused women suffering from mental illness. Thematic interviews were conducted with 13 staff members from various welfare services. Data were subject to content analysis. The findings showed that working with abused women was experienced as ambiguous and painful and made the staff act... (More)
The phenomenon of abused women with mental illness is often unrecognised by staff working within welfare services. This may be explained by staff members' attitudes, insecurity or lack of awareness. Today, there are shortcomings in the knowledge of staff members' experiences and interpretations of abuse against women suffering from mental illness. The aim of this qualitative study was to describe how staff members experience and understand their work with abused women suffering from mental illness. Thematic interviews were conducted with 13 staff members from various welfare services. Data were subject to content analysis. The findings showed that working with abused women was experienced as ambiguous and painful and made the staff act pragmatically. Feelings of ambiguity were mainly related to the lack of theoretical frameworks for interpreting why women with mental illness are exposed to abuse. Painful experiences involved intertwined feelings of distress, frustration, worthlessness, ambivalence and powerlessness. These were all feelings that emerged in the direct encounters with the abused women. In response to the abused women's comprehensive needs, staff members acted pragmatically, implying networking without any sanction from the leaders of the organisation, compliance with routines and taking action in here-and-now situations. By acting pragmatically, staff members could achieve concrete results through their interventions. It is concluded that staff members, working with abused women with mental illness, are in a vulnerable situation and in need of formally accepted and implemented support and legitimacy as well as theoretical knowledge regarding causes and consequences of abuse in this particular group of women. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
staff attitudes, qualitative study, abused women, mental illness
in
Health & Social Care in the Community
volume
17
issue
5
pages
459 - 465
publisher
Wiley-Blackwell
external identifiers
  • wos:000268655700004
  • scopus:68849117669
ISSN
0966-0410
DOI
10.1111/j.1365-2524.2009.00843.x
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
9a9241a1-ad20-44aa-a1a4-c8164d13cc2a (old id 1459966)
date added to LUP
2009-08-25 14:14:09
date last changed
2017-07-30 03:54:12
@article{9a9241a1-ad20-44aa-a1a4-c8164d13cc2a,
  abstract     = {The phenomenon of abused women with mental illness is often unrecognised by staff working within welfare services. This may be explained by staff members' attitudes, insecurity or lack of awareness. Today, there are shortcomings in the knowledge of staff members' experiences and interpretations of abuse against women suffering from mental illness. The aim of this qualitative study was to describe how staff members experience and understand their work with abused women suffering from mental illness. Thematic interviews were conducted with 13 staff members from various welfare services. Data were subject to content analysis. The findings showed that working with abused women was experienced as ambiguous and painful and made the staff act pragmatically. Feelings of ambiguity were mainly related to the lack of theoretical frameworks for interpreting why women with mental illness are exposed to abuse. Painful experiences involved intertwined feelings of distress, frustration, worthlessness, ambivalence and powerlessness. These were all feelings that emerged in the direct encounters with the abused women. In response to the abused women's comprehensive needs, staff members acted pragmatically, implying networking without any sanction from the leaders of the organisation, compliance with routines and taking action in here-and-now situations. By acting pragmatically, staff members could achieve concrete results through their interventions. It is concluded that staff members, working with abused women with mental illness, are in a vulnerable situation and in need of formally accepted and implemented support and legitimacy as well as theoretical knowledge regarding causes and consequences of abuse in this particular group of women.},
  author       = {Tops, Dolf and Saveman, B. -I. and Tops, D.},
  issn         = {0966-0410},
  keyword      = {staff attitudes,qualitative study,abused women,mental illness},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {5},
  pages        = {459--465},
  publisher    = {Wiley-Blackwell},
  series       = {Health & Social Care in the Community},
  title        = {Staff experience and understanding of working with abused women suffering from mental illness},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2524.2009.00843.x},
  volume       = {17},
  year         = {2009},
}