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Br J Gen Pract. 1998 Jan;48(426):906-8.

Victims of violence and the general practitioner.

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Section of Forensic Psychiatry, St George's Hospital Medical School, London.



Violent crime is on the increase in Britain, with 17% of the 15 million incidents of crime reported in 1991 being of a violent nature. Although there is some information on the role of accident and emergency departments for victims who sustain physical injury, little is known about the role of the general practitioner (GP) in managing the acute and longer-term sequelae of violence.


To examine the links between experiencing physical of sexual assault and seeking help from GPs in London.


A cross-sectional survey of all adult attendees in one large group practice was carried out. The main outcome measures were prevalence of assault, reporting to the doctor and other people, and scores on the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) and the Impact of Events scale.


Of the 195 people who took part, 33 (17%) reported a physical or sexual assault in the previous year. Women were three times more likely than men to report any type of assault. Women rarely spontaneously disclosed these experiences to the GP and yet the experience of violence was associated with higher levels of distress, as measured on the GHQ and the Impact of Events Scale.


Assault is a relatively common event in the lives of people who consult their GP. Doctors could help these patients through gaining an awareness of the problem and by fostering links with voluntary services, such as victim support schemes, which can provide support, practical assistance, and advice on compensation claims and legal procedures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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