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J Fam Pract. 2000 Oct;49(10):889-95.

Interventions that help victims of domestic violence. A qualitative analysis of physicians' experiences.

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  • 1Department of Preventive and Restorative Dental Sciences, School of Dentistry, University of California San Francisco, 94117, USA.



The barriers physicians face when providing care to victims of domestic violence are well detailed in the literature, but few studies provide insight into how physicians overcome these barriers. Our goal was to describe the domestic violence interventions used by physicians who are committed to providing quality health care to battered women.


We conducted 6 focus groups with 45 San Francisco Bay Area physicians who had intervened with victims of domestic violence. The sessions were audiotaped and transcribed. We constructed, through constant comparison, a template of open codes to identify themes that emerged from the data.


Our analysis revealed that physicians viewed validation (ie, providing messages to the patients that they are worth caring about) as the foundation of intervention. Other interventions included labeling the abuse as abuse; listening and being nonjudgmental; documenting, referring, and safety planning; using a team approach; and prioritizing domestic violence in the health care environment. Physicians described a range of rewards for intervening with victims, from seeing a patient change her entire life to subtle shifts in the way a woman thinks of her relationship and herself.


Our study offers insight into how physicians can intervene to help victims of domestic violence. Recent interview and survey studies of battered women support the physician interventions described.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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