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431 General practitioners’ knowledge and attitudes on gender-based violence: a cross sectional study in Sri Lanka
  1. Achini Jayatilleke,
  2. Lakshmen Senanayake,
  3. Sumithra Tissera,
  4. Dileep Gamage,
  5. Tiny T Weerakkodi
  1. Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka, Colombo, Sri Lanka


Background In Sri Lanka, General Practitioners (GPs) meet survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) on daily basis. However, probably because GPs are not trained on GBV or hold negative GBV related attitudes, they rarely identify and assist survivors in their GP practices. This study aimed to assess Sri Lankan GPs’ existing knowledge and attitudes regarding GBV in order to understand how they might affect GPs’ GBV services.

Methods We conducted a postal survey with all the registered full-time GPs in Sri Lanka (n = 526). On 1st June 2015, an anonymous self-administered structured questionnaire was posted to the GPs, with stamped return envelops. GPs were requested to return the completed questionnaires within four weeks. We made two reminder calls after four and six weeks of posting the questionnaires. By 31st July 2015, 124 GPs returned the completed questionnaires. We analysed those data using SPSS version 20 statistical software.

Findings Majority of the GPs was male (70.5%) and 84.4% had obtained their MBBS degree at least 15 years before. Of all, 7.3% of the GPs were survivors, 2.1% were perpetrators, and 15.6% were both survivors and perpetrators of GBV. Majority agreed that GBV survivors rarely complain about GBV (95.9%), and 76.2% agreed that if asked in a gender sensitive manner, survivors will disclose GBV to GPs. However, 62.6% believed that because it is a private matter, GPs should not involve assisting survivors, unless they are requested to do so. Only 28.9% GPs knew that GBV can lead to suicides during pregnancy and only 29.4% knew that both spontaneous and induced abortions could be associated with GBV. Only 14.8% knew that domestic violence law covers emotional violence. Of all, 87% of the GPs believed that women’s behaviour provoke GBV, and 74.8% believed that provocative dress is a reason for rape.

Conclusion Sri Lankan GPs’ knowledge and attitudes on GBV is inadequate. Adequate sensitisation on GBV might improve GP’s understanding on GBV.

  • Gender-based violence
  • General Practitioners
  • knowledge
  • attitudes
  • Sri Lanka

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