Physician screening can get patients to open up about abuse

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted May 21, 2012

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Physicians who screen women for intimate partner violence can help identify patients who are being abused and lessen the health effects that often accompany such violence, according to a U.S. Preventive Services Task Force report.

Each year, up to 5.3 million U.S. women are abused by a partner, and such abuse often involves physical or sexual violence, rape or psychological aggression, said the report published online May 7 in Annals of Internal Medicine. Those abusive acts can lead to physical injuries, sexually transmitted infections, psychological distress and death, the report said.

The task force reviewed studies published since 2003 on the effectiveness of screening for intimate partner violence and the success of interventions in reducing the potential harms of abuse (link).

They found that women who are screened using a questionnaire or interview-type tool are more likely to initiate discussions about intimate partner violence with their physician compared with those who are not screened. Screening has minimal adverse effects, but some women report experiencing discomfort, loss of privacy, emotional distress and concerns about further abuse, the report said.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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