CRVAW Faculty Journal Articles


Missed Opportunities: Intimate Partner Violence in Family Practice Settings


Background. For women experiencing partner violence, women health care visits represent opportunities for physicians and patients to address intimate partner violence (IPV), a significant health threat for women.

Objectives. The objectives were to estimate rates of physician documentation of IPV in medical records; characterize IPV+ women most likely to have IPV documented; and determine whether IPV screening increased IPV documentation.

Methods. Subjects were women ages 18–65 receiving primary care in two large family practice clinics. All were screened for IPV by study staff using a modified Index of Spouse Abuse and the Women's Experience with Battering scales. We selected and abstracted medical records for all women experiencing current IPV (N = 144) and a random sample of women never experiencing IPV (N = 147).

Results. Of 144 women screened as currently experiencing IPV, 14.7% were documented. Women most likely to have IPV documented were Caucasian, with higher WEB scores, and more likely to have an event that could trigger posttraumatic stress syndrome. Although the majority (41/56) of women currently in physically violent relationships did not plan to disclose IPV, those disclosing were significantly more likely to have IPV documented and documentation occurred after screening for 60% of women experiencing IPV.

Conclusion. IPV screening increased documentation. IPV screening can provide the opportunity for patients to disclose IPV. Physicians then have the opportunity to compassionately connect patients with appropriate resources.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in Preventive Medicine, v. 34, no. 4, p. 445-454.

Dr. Ann Coker had not been a faculty member of the University of Kentucky at the time of publication.

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