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Acad Emerg Med. 2005 Aug;12(8):712-22.

Intimate partner violence and patient screening across medical specialties.

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Harvard University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.



The aims of this study were to compare rates of intimate partner violence (IPV) across different medical specialties and health care sites in one metropolitan area, describe demographic characteristics of women with abusive partners, characterize health care provider assessment of IPV, and describe patient characteristics associated with health care assessment for partner violence.


Women (N = 2,465) completed written surveys about partner violence and health care screening for violence in the waiting rooms of five types of health care settings (obstetrician/gynecologist office, emergency department, primary care office, pediatrics, and addiction recovery) across eight different hospitals in the greater Boston area.


The overall survey response rate was 62%. The 12-month prevalence rate of IPV was 14%, with 37% disclosing lifetime prevalence. The highest rates of recent IPV were disclosed in the hospital-based addiction recovery unit (36%) and in emergency departments (17%). Adjusted demographic risk characteristics for IPV included age (younger than 24 years), low income, and unemployment. Health care providers were more likely to discuss IPV with low-income women than with middle- or high-income women but were no more likely to assess violence within the youngest age group. Among women who disclosed abuse to their health care provider, 50% reported receiving direct interventions or services as a result.


Using the same instrument and protocol, different rates of IPV and detection of IPV were found across medical departments, with the highest rates in emergency departments and an addiction recovery program. It is especially important for assessment of IPV to include young women who present to medical departments.

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