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Can Fam Physician. 2007 Mar;53(3):461-8, 460.

Violence involving intimate partners: prevalence in Canadian family practice.

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  • 1Centre for Research on Inner City Health at 70 Richmond, St Michael's Hospital, 30 Bond St, Toronto, ON M5B 1W8.



To investigate the prevalence of violence involving intimate partners among women visiting Canadian family practices and to assess participants' attitudes toward future use of computer-assisted screening for violence and other health risks.


Self-report via written survey.


Group family practice clinic in inner-city Toronto, Ont.


Women patients at least 18 years old who were fluent in English.


Responses to questions about violence selected from the Abuse Assessment Screen and the Partner Violence Screen. Participants' attitudes toward computer-assisted screening as measured by the Computerized Lifestyle Assessment Scale (1 to 5) in the domains of benefits, privacy-barriers, interaction-barriers, and interest.


Responses were received from 202 patients, 144 of whom were in current or recent relationships and completed the section on intimate-partner violence (IPV). The overall prevalence of IPV in current or recent relationships was 14.6%. Emotional abuse was reported by 10.4%, threat of violence by 8.3%, and physical or sexual violence by 7.6% of respondents. Emotional abuse was significantly associated with threat of violence and physical or sexual violence (P < or = .001). Analysis of responses to questions on computerized screening revealed that participants generally perceived it would have benefits (mean score 3.6) and were very interested in it (mean score 4.3). Those who reported experiencing IPV rated the benefits of computerized screening significantly higher than respondents without IPV experiences did (t 2.3, df 142, P < .05). Participants were "not sure" about barriers (mean score 3.0). Responses were similar in the 2 groups for the domains of interest, privacy-barriers, and interaction-barriers.


The high rate of IPV reported by women attending family practices calls for physicians to be vigilant. Future research should examine ways to facilitate physicians' inquiry into IPV. The positive attitudes of our participants toward interactive computer-assisted screening indicates a need for more research in this area.

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