Healthcare workers can help prevent domestic abuse

Healthcare providers can help prevent domestic violence by conducting screenings and education, but they shouldn't limit the screenings to women of childbearing age, two assistant professors at the University of Kentucky's College of Health Sciences argue in a column published in the Lexington Herald Leader.

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends screening for intimate-partner violence for women 14 to 46. But DeShana Collett and Tamara Bennett say that healthcare providers must also screen older adults and men in same-sex and heterosexual relationships.

A 2010 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey found that more than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will be victims of intimate partner violence during their lifetimes.

"It is important for clinicians to ask non-judgmental questions, document the conversations and physical examination findings as well as assess the patient's safety," according to the commentary. "Finally, it is vital that the healthcare provider review the patient's options with them and provide referrals and resources."

About 1 in 4 clinicians report they have never been trained on screening for intimate-partner violence, and 80 percent of survey respondents said they hadn't received training in the previous six months.

Some hospitals like Massachusetts General partner with clinics that can provide free or no-cost care to domestic abuse victims.

For more:
- read the commentary