Research Nugget

Providing Care to Women Experiencing GBV in Rural SA – Views of Professional Nurses

Women in most rural provinces are at a high risk of experiencing gender-based violence (GBV). Furthermore, most of these women are not attended to comprehensively in primary, community, emergency, and outpatient healthcare facilities. Given that professional nurses are at the frontline of providing healthcare to women experiencing GBV, understanding their experiences in providing nursing care to these women may give insight into how they can be guided to provide more relational care.

A study funded by the NRF assessed the experiences of professional nurses at the frontline of providing care to women experiencing GBV at various healthcare facilities in the rural area of Vhembe District in Limpopo. The study found that the professional nurses:

  • Were willing to provide nursing care but worked in difficult environments. Infrastructure at healthcare facilities was not conducive to making full assessments, especially for sensitive issues like GBV. There were no separate rooms available to interview victims.
  • Lacked sufficient competence when it comes to assessing and management of women experiencing GBV. This resulted in them being reluctant and afraid to approach the women when they suspect GBV. In addition, their attitude, workload and communication skills influenced how they engaged with women experiencing GBV.
  • Experienced that the lived reality of the women made it difficult for them to disclose that they are experiencing GBV. Culture, fear of in laws, poverty and insecurity emerged as key factors which contributed to women concealing the abuse.
  • Had a willingness to attune to and connect with women experiencing GBV, despite being faced with work overload, poor infrastructure, and lack of skills.

Based on the findings, the study recommends guidance for nurses in providing relational care to women who are experiencing GBV. Furthermore, infrastructure should be updated to ensure private and safe spaces for women, debriefing and training should be provided and multidisciplinary collaboration should be strengthened. Policy for improved referral systems, the assessment and management of women experiencing gender-based violence and the wellness of professional nurses should be developed.

Access the full paper published in the journal Health SA Gesondheid here.