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J Am Coll Surg. 2000 Oct;191(4):347-53.

Domestic violence and the trauma surgeon: results of a study on knowledge and education.

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University of California San Francisco/Fresno, Fresno USA.



Despite the frequency of domestic violence in trauma patients, little emphasis has been placed on this subject in the education of surgeons and emergency medicine physicians. The 1997 Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) course included, for the first time, education about domestic violence. This study was done to test the hypothesis that baseline knowledge about domestic violence in trauma care providers is poor and is not improved by the 1997 ATLS course.


A study on domestic violence was designed using attending general surgeons, general surgery and emergency medicine residents, and medical students as test subjects. An educational lecture and pre- and post-tests were developed using the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma position paper on domestic violence and other peer-reviewed literature as information sources. Data collected included level of training, date ATLS course was taken, and pre- and post-test scores. Statistical analysis was performed with ANOVA, with significance attributed to p < 0.05.


Ninety-two subjects attended the lecture and completed the pre- and post-tests. The overall mean pre-test score was 54 +/- 1. There was no difference in scores for the 1997 ATLS cohort (with domestic violence material) versus the group with earlier ATLS courses (52 +/- 2 versus 51 +/- 1). The group that had never taken ATLS scored significantly better on the pre-test than the other groups (58 +/- 2, p < 0.05). All groups had significantly increased scores on the post-test (mean 77 < 1, p < 0.001 versus pre-test).


Baseline knowledge about domestic violence among surgeons and emergency medicine physicians was poor and was not improved by participation in the 1997 ATLS course. This study strongly supports the need for expanded domestic violence education for trauma care providers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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