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Domestic violence management in Malaysia: A survey on the primary health care providers

Sajaratulnisah Othman12* and Noor Azmi Mat Adenan3

Author Affiliations

1 School of Primary Health Care, Monash University, Australia

2 Department of Primary Care Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Malaysia

3 Department of Obstetric & Gynaecology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Malaysia

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Asia Pacific Family Medicine 2008, 7:2  doi:10.1186/1447-056X-7-2

Published: 29 September 2008



To assess the knowledge, attitudes and practices of primary health care providers regarding the identification and management of domestic violence in a hospital based primary health care setting.


A survey of all clinicians and nursing staff of the outpatient, casualty and antenatal clinics in University Malaya Medical Centre using a self-administered questionnaire.


Hundred and eight out of 188 available staff participated. Sixty-two percent of the clinicians and 66.9% of the nursing staff perceived the prevalence of domestic violence within their patients to be very rare or rare. Majority of the clinicians (68.9%) reported asking their patients regarding domestic violence 'at times' but 26.2% had never asked at all. Time factor, concern about offending the patient and unsure of how to ask were reported as barriers in asking for domestic violence by 66%, 52.5% and 32.8% of the clinicians respectively. Clinicians have different practices and levels of confidence within the management of domestic violence. Victim-blaming attitude exists in 28% of the clinicians and 51.1% of the nursing staff. Less than a third of the participants reported knowing of any written protocol for domestic violence management. Only 20% of the clinicians and 6.8% of the nursing staff had ever attended any educational program related to domestic violence.


Lack of positive attitude and positive practices among the staff towards domestic violence identification and management might be related to inadequate knowledge and inappropriate personal values regarding domestic violence.