Addressing Intimate Partner Violence in Primary Care Practice

Leigh Kimberg, MD

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In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Primary care practice provides an ideal opportunity for the discussion of the remarkably prevalent yet often hidden problem of intimate partner violence. Patients report that screening of intimate partner violence is acceptable, yet most providers do not discuss intimate partner violence with their patients. The purpose of this article is 3-fold: to outline what is known about the prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and why providers should discuss intimate partner violence with their patients, to review recommended screening policy and how to ask about and intervene in cases of intimate partner violence, and finally to provide suggestions for institutionalizing a clinical response to intimate partner violence.

Primary care practice provides an ideal opportunity for the discussion of the remarkably prevalent yet often hidden problem of intimate partner violence. Patients report that screening of intimate partner violence is acceptable, yet most providers do not discuss intimate partner violence with their patients. The purpose of this article is 3-fold: to outline what is known about the prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and why providers should discuss intimate partner violence with their patients, to review recommended screening policy and how to ask about and intervene in cases of intimate partner violence, and finally to provide suggestions for institutionalizing a clinical response to intimate partner violence. Because the prevalence of intimate partner violence victimization is far higher in women and most research on intimate partner violence victimization has been done in women, this article focuses primarily on female victims of intimate partner violence, but the principles outlined here are generally applicable to male victims.

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