Pre-qualifying education and training helps health workers tackle gender based violence

The researchers found that interactive approaches to learning gave better results than theory-focused education and simple accumulation of knowledge

Gender-based violence (GBV) could be tackled more effectively by giving healthcare students wider and more practical education and training in identifying and responding to the ‘warning signs’ presented among patients they will encounter in professional life, according to a new study.

Introducing effective GBV educational strategies before healthcare staff qualify would help to reduce the serious health and social threat to people – mainly women – around the globe. Tackling GBV is a key part of meeting UN Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality.

Researchers from the Universities of Birmingham and Melbourne reviewed almost 500 research sources in the first internationally-focused systematic literature review to combine evidence on the subject of GBV educational strategies for prequalifying healthcare students. The study, which was led by Dr Caroline Bradbury-Jones from the University of Birmingham's School of Nursing, was published in Trauma Violence & Abuse.

They set out a number of implications for further practice, policy and research, including:

  • GBV learning opportunities should have a practical focus and aim to incorporate an interactive element for improved results
  • Existing and future education programmes should give greater attention to the wider forms of GBV such as female genital mutilation/cutting, forced marriage, honour violence and human trafficking
  • More research is needed on the subject of single- versus mixed-gender audiences in GBV education for prequalifying healthcare students

Ms Dana Sammut, also from the University of Birmingham’s School of Nursing, commented: "GBV poses a serious health and social threat to women around the world. Pre-qualifying education is vital in shaping professionals’ responses, yet healthcare staff and students lack confidence in dealing with the issue.

“Healthcare institutions are often left to design and implement their own GBV policies, which can result in inconsistencies. Introducing effective GBV educational strategies before students qualify allows these problems to be addressed at the earliest opportunity in healthcare practitioners’ careers.”

The researchers identified that interactive approaches to learning gave better results than theory-focused education and simple accumulation of knowledge. They recommend that future research should investigate wider learning theory and consider its application in the development of GBV curricula. 

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