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Women Health. 2002;35(2-3):135-47.

Abused patient's attitudes about mandatory reporting of intimate partner abuse injuries to police.

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UCLA Department of Family Medicine, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA.



This study examines abused women's preferences regarding medical clinician reporting of intimate partner abuse injuries to police. It also examines the influence of specific demographic factors on abused women's reporting preferences.


Telephone interviews were conducted with a random sample of women patients attending one of three public primary care clinics associated with the San Francisco Community Health Network. Participants reporting a history of abuse were asked to identify their preferences regarding the reporting of abuse by medical clinicians to police.


Of the 358 abused women interviewed in this study, the majority of them (n = 243, 68%) did not prefer a domestic violence injury reporting system that was mandatory even if against patient wishes. However, almost all women (n = 329, 92%) favored some form of police reporting by medical clinicians. Women who had been abused within the past year were more likely to oppose mandatory reporting than women who had been abused more than one year ago. Younger women were more likely than older women to oppose mandatory reporting requirements, and women whose primary language was English were more likely to oppose mandatory reporting requirements than women whose primary language was Spanish. Current abuse was independently predictive of decreased likelihood to select mandatory reporting in all situations. There were no significant differences in reporting preferences by ethnicity, marital status, education, employment, or the presence of children at home.


Despite broad support among abused women for medical clinician reporting of intimate partner abuse injuries to police, most women do not support mandatory reporting requirements that do not allow for consideration of the abused patients' wishes. More research is needed to ascertain whether the benefits of mandatory reporting outweigh the risks to those intended to benefit from the law.

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