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J Am Med Womens Assoc. 2003 Spring;58(2):76-81.

What happens when health care providers ask about intimate partner violence? A description of consequences from the perspectives of female survivors.

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  • 1University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA.



To describe positive and negative consequences of health care screening for intimate partner violence from the perspectives of female survivors.


We conducted 7 semistructured focus group interviews with 41 women in battered women's shelters or intimate partner violence support groups.


Positive consequences of screening included: recognizing that the violence was a problem, decreased isolation, and feeling that the medical provider cared. Negative consequences included: feeling judged by the provider, increased anxiety about the unknown, feeling that the intervention protocol was cumbersome or intrusive, and disappointment in the provider's response.


We found that both positive and negative consequences can result from screening for intimate partner violence and that they are related to provider behavior. The positive consequences described by the participants reflect changes in their attitudes, thoughts, and feelings that may precede help seeking. A better understanding of consequences can help providers tailor screening approaches and interventions for intimate partner violence.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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