Background: Family violence (FV) is a global health problem that not only impacts the victim, but the family unit, local community and society at large.
Objective: To quantitatively and qualitatively evaluate the treatment and follow up provided to victims of violence amongst immediate and extended family units who presented to three health centers in Mozambique for care following violence.
Methods: We conducted a verbally-administered survey to self-disclosed victims of FV who presented to one of three health units, each at a different level of service, in Mozambique for treatment of their injuries. Data were entered into SPSS (SPSS, version 13.0) and analyzed for frequencies. Qualitative short answer data were transcribed during the interview, coded and analyzed prior to translation by the principal investigator.
Results: One thousand two hundred and six assault victims presented for care during the eight-week study period, of which 216 disclosed the relationship of the assailant, including 92 who were victims of FV. Almost all patients (90%) waited less than one hour to be seen, with most patients (67%) waiting less than 30 minutes. Most patients did not require laboratory or radiographic diagnostics at the primary (70%) and secondary (93%) health facilities, while 44% of patients received a radiograph at the tertiary care center. Among all three hospitals, only 10% were transferred to a higher level of care, 14% were not given any form of follow up or referral information, while 13% required a specialist evaluation. No victims were referred for psychological follow-up or support. Qualitative data revealed that some patients did not disclose violence as the etiology, because they believed the physician was unable to address or treat the violence-related issues and/or had limited time to discuss.
Conclusion: Healthcare services for treating the physical injuries of victims of FV were timely and rarely required advanced levels of medical care, but there were no psychological services or follow-up referrals for violence victims. The healthcare environment at all three surveyed health centers in Mozambique does not encourage disclosure or self-report of FV. Policies and strategies need to be implemented to encourage patient disclosure of FV and provide more health system-initiated victim resources. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(3):348-353.]