Screening is 'not effective' in the fight against domestic violence

May 12, 2014

One in three women around the world have experienced physical or sexual violence from a partner. Although domestic violence is associated with a range of adverse health impacts, even after the abuse has ended, it is not easily identified by health care professionals, prompting some countries, notably the United States, to introduce screening programmes in healthcare settings. A new study, published online by the BMJ today [13 May], has found no evidence to support domestic violence screening.

Researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Melbourne, La Trobe and Columbia Universities and Queen Mary University in London reviewed all trials globally that assessed the effectiveness of intimate partner violence screening in primary care, antenatal care and emergency medicine departments.

They looked at 11 studies, involving 13,027 women in high-income countries. Although screening increased identification of cases by 133 per cent, the proportion of women identified was small - ranging from three per cent to 17 per cent. There was no evidence that screening increased referrals to domestic violence support services, nor reduced violence or improved quality of life and other outcomes for domestic violence survivors.

Screening involved a range of methods to identify whether women patients had experience of domestic abuse, including face-to-face questions and computer surveys carried out during routine or emergency appointments.

Professor Gene Feder, from the University of Bristol's School of Social and Community Medicine, said: "Domestic violence is a crime and breach of human rights with major public health and clinical impact. Screening women in healthcare settings is national policy in some countries.

"By looking at research trials carried out around the world, we found no evidence that screening improves access to specialist domestic violence support or leads to a reduction of violence. This is an example of research that tells us what not to do. Yes, doctors and nurses need to ask women patients about abuse, but not all women patients. We need to shift the research focus towards developing effective care for survivors of domestic violence after they have disclosed, however they are identified."

The findings support the NICE domestic violence guidelines and the World Health Organisation's (WHO) intimate partner violence guidelines, which do not recommend domestic violence screening. They do recommend training of clinicians and development of care pathways to specialist domestic violence services, currently suffering funding cuts.
-end-
Paper

'Screening women for intimate partner violence in healthcare settings: abridged Cochrane systematic review and meta-analysis' by Lorna J O'Doherty, Angela Taft, Kelsey Hegarty, Jean Ramsay, Leslie L Davidson and Gene Feder in the BMJ.

University of Bristol

Related Domestic Violence Articles from Brightsurf:

As domestic violence spikes, many victims and their children have nowhere to live
COVID-19 has left many victims of domestic violence facing difficulties feeding their children and accessing services for safe housing, transportation and childcare once they leave shelters, according to a Rutgers study published in the journal Violence Against Women.

New study shows increase in domestic violence injuries during COVID-19
There was a higher incidence and severity of physical intimate partner violence (IPV) among patients seen at a large, academic medical center in the US during the COVID-19 pandemic compared with the prior three years, according to a new study.

Domestic violence increased in the great recession
Researchers found that physical abuse in adults increased substantially, with Black and Native American people being disproportionately affected.

Mothering in domestic violence: Protecting children behind closed doors
As emerging data shows an alarming rise of domestic violence during the pandemic, researchers at the University of South Australia are urging practitioners to look beyond clinical observations and focus on the strengths that mothers exercise to protect their children from domestic abuse.

Training family doctors to better support domestic violence survivors
Women who are experiencing domestic violence feel better supported, more confident and less depressed when they are counselled by trained family doctors, according to new research.

Domestic violence reduces likelihood of mothers breastfeeding in developing countries
Mothers who have suffered from domestic violence are substantially less likely to follow recommended breastfeeding practices in low to middle-income countries, a new study shows.

Treatment for sexual and domestic violence offenders does work
A first-of-its-kind meta-study has found that specialised psychological programmes for sexual and domestic violence offenders have led to major reductions in reoffending but best results are achieved with consistent input from a qualified psychologist.

Study: Brain injury common in domestic violence
Domestic violence survivors commonly suffer repeated blows to the head and strangulation, trauma that has lasting effects that should be widely recognized by advocates, health care providers, law enforcement and others who are in a position to help, according to the authors of a new study.

Dentists can be the first line of defense against domestic violence
New findings indicate that oral biomarkers may help health providers identify victims of domestic violence.

Radiologists can help identify victims of domestic violence
Radiologists may play a crucial role in identifying signs of intimate partner violence, a type of domestic violence, according to a new study.

Read More: Domestic Violence News and Domestic Violence Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.