Suicide and Intimate Partner Violence Risk Assessment and Decision-making



Intimate partner violence, Suicide, Risk assessment and management, Emotions, Decision-making


This research explores the question: “How do social workers and multidisciplinary mental health professionals perceive and understand risk and how does this inform decision-making and service provision?” In-depth face-to-face interviews were conducted with health and mental health workers employed at a major health service based in Melbourne, Australia. Participants were employed in hospitals, community health centres, and residential care facilities including specialist mental health services. Theoretic thematic analysis was used to identify seven dominant themes reported by study participants. These were: (1) establishing risk ownership; (2) a hierarchy of fears; (3) self-doubt and self-blame; (4) organisational incident reviews; (5) blame from client, family and society; (6) the protective shield; and (7)evaluating safety and meaning. The study findings have implications for further research andsocial work education on risk assessment, decision-making and appropriate social work responses. 

Author Biographies

Kellie Grant, Monash University

Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University, Frankston, Australia

Louisa Whitwam, Peninsula Health

Social Work Department, Peninsula Health, Frankston, Australia

Professor , Federation University

School of Arts, Federation University Australia, Berwick, Australia

Jennifer White, University of Newcastle

Faculty of Health and Medicine, The University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia 

Terry Haines, Monash University

Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University, Frankston, Australia


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