The health system, including hospitals, health funds, mental health clinics and health bureaus, is one of the major systems that detect and treat domestic violence and sexual assault victims. To promote the ability to detect and treat these victims, permanent committees on domestic violence, sexual exploitation and neglect of minors and incapacitated persons (hereafter, “committees”) have been active in the health services since 2003. In 2021, the Department for Treating Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault at the National Social Work Service in the Ministry of Health asked the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute to examine the committees’ work and map their composition, characteristics, and activities. The first stage of this research project consisted of an international review of optimal mechanisms and best practices for detecting victims of domestic violence and treating them in health systems (Shapira & Milshtein, 2023). We now present the findings of the second stage: interviews with committee members and non-member professional staff.
The interviews were designed to examine the committees’ procedures, achievements, and challenges.
Semi-structured interviews conducted from January-June 2022 with 21 members of 13 committees, as well as professionals from various health system organizations – general and psychiatric hospitals, health plans, district health offices, and geriatric institutions.
- The committees have four main activity areas: (1) Training staff; (2) Advising staff; (3) Maintaining continuum of care; and (4) Measurement and evaluation.
- The different organizations vary considerably in terms of their committees’ conduct in each activity area.
- Many of the procedures guiding the committees’ activities in each area are outdated and lacking in detail.
- There is no clear division of labor between the committee members, and in many committees the coordinator is exclusively responsible for activities.
- Few of the committee members have a dedicated appointment or are financially compensated for their activity.
- Today, the staffs and managements of various healthcare organizations are insufficiently aware of the issue of domestic violence and sexual assault in general, and of the committees’ activities in particular.
- Update procedures regarding the detection and treatment of victims and provide detailed guidelines regarding the committees’ practices
- Clearly define the division of labor among committee members
- Add working hours for the committee coordinators as well as allocate budgets for dedicated paid appointments of chairpersons and other committee members
- Increase the awareness and knowledge of staff and management of healthcare organizations about domestic violence and sexual assault, and about the committees’ activities in particular
- Improve the continuum of care by providing ongoing and integrated services by professionals from multiple disciplines in various organizations, including hospitals, community health services, and welfare and law enforcement services
- Promote regulation of committee activities by updating and standardizing their procedures and improving measurement and evaluation processes
Citing suggestion: Milshtein, E., Shapira, H., & Hasin, T. (2023). Committees on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault: Responsibilities, Procedures, and Challenges – Findings of Interviews with Committee Members and Staff. S-223-23. Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute. (Hebrew)