Domestic Abuse

Why

Even though it may take on average four years for a patient to trust their healthcare provider enough to tell about an abusive situation, and may say “no” when asked, screening is very important.  You may never know your successes - that six months after you showed concern the patient finally called a hotline.

Benefits of Screening:

  • Plants the seed that certain behaviors are abuse, and abuse is wrong
  • “Opens the door” to considering options and reducing isolation, that s/he is not alone, and that there are people who can help.
  • Indicates your willingness to discuss the issue when s/he’s ready.
  • Shows how important you believe this subject to be.
  • Shows that you care about her/his well-being.
  • Opportunity to educate patient about the health impact of abuse – create insight to understand the connection with diagnosis.
  • Opportunity to provide referrals and support for psychosocial issues.
  • Decreases misdiagnosis, unnecessary testing, hospitalization and surgery.
  • Decreases morbidity and mortality due to abuse.
  • Improves the lives of children at home.
  • Provides an opportunity to break the family cycle of abuse for the next generation and our society.
 

When you said to me "You don't deserve it," that gave me the courage to get help. I'm safe now. Thank you for your help."

Gerbert, b et al. Women and Health,1999, 29(3): 115-135.

What are the top reasons a patient accepts intervention?

> Concern about children
> Fear for their own safety
> Clinician said that home situation could be affecting their health

Women Health. 2002;35(23):23-40
PMID: 12201508

why is the healthcare setting a good place for screening?
  • People have contact with the healthcare system their entire lives
  • Opportunity for privacy and confidentiality
  • Develop trust with onging relationship
  • Multiple types of services available as needed
  • Source for community outreach and prevention

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