The nation’s leading domestic violence prevention agency, which runs the National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence (funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), cautioned against reading the findings of a study published in the August 4th edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association as a definitive rejection of screening for intimate partner violence in health care settings. Calling the negative conclusions about screening unjustified and noting problems with the study’s design and implementation, leaders at the Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF) warned that failure to continue and enhance programs that screen patients for domestic violence will cost lives.If not all clinicians used the information they were given then any lack of positive results from this study is meaningless.
The new study, by researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, set out to examine the effectiveness of screening for intimate partner violence in preventing repeat violence and improving quality of life. However, since both the intervention and control groups were both asked about abuse using the same self-administered written survey, the study only measured the difference when positive results were communicated to clinicians vs. when clinicians were not given this information.
In the study, if a woman in the “screened” group reported intimate partner violence (IPV), the information was given to her clinician before her visit. Whether the clinician used – or ignored – that information was not monitored in a uniform manner. In fact, according to women who were questioned immediately after their visits, fewer than half the “screened” women discussed violence with their clinicians.
Read the entire statement about this study.