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J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2005 Oct;14(8):713-20.

Physician-identified barriers to intimate partner violence screening.

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School of Social Work, College of Human Services and Health Professions, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244, USA.



Intimate partner violence (IPV) causes approximately 2 million injuries and 1300 deaths each year. Despite the high frequency of IPV among women seeking healthcare, only a small proportion report being asked by healthcare professionals about abuse. This study examined perceived barriers to IPV screening among obstetricians/gynecologists, family physicians, and internists, so that protocols for IPV training can be tailored to those particular areas of difficulty.


A cross-sectional survey of 143 obstetricians and gynecologists, family practice physicians, and internists in a medium-sized upstate New York city was conducted. Factor analysis was performed. Two IPV barrier domains emerged and were examined using a multivariate analysis to determine associations between the domains and physician characteristics.


For general knowledge, there were greater perceived barriers if the respondent was male but fewer perceived barriers if the respondent was an obstetrician/gynecologist and fewer perceived barriers if the respondent had 5-10 years in practice. For practice policy, there were greater perceived barriers if the physician was in a private practice setting and fewer perceived barriers if the physician was an obstetrician/gynecologist.


These findings provide direction for training in IPV recognition. They support a need for continued training throughout the physician's career. More importantly, the findings support a need for better practice systems to encourage routine screening for IPV by healthcare providers.

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