Recommendation: Docs Should Screen All Women of Childbearing Age for Intimate Partner Violence

Posted By News On January 21, 2013 - 10:30pm

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advocacy group recommends that physicians screen all women of childbearing age for intimate partner violence (IPV) and refer them to intervention services, if needed.

There was insufficient evidence to recommend for or against screening elderly or vulnerable adults (adults with mental or physical disabilities) for abuse and neglect.

These recommendations address screening of patients who do not have signs or symptoms of abuse. Patients with such signs and symptoms require evaluation for abuse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 31 percent of women and 26 percent of men have experienced some form of IPV in their lifetime.

While IPV and elderly abuse are common, cases may be underreported. Adequate evidence suggests that screening can identify IPV, but such evidence is lacking for elderly abuse.

To inform this updated recommendation, the Task Force reviewed articles published since 2003 to determine the effectiveness of IPV screening and interventions for women in health care settings in reducing IPV and related health outcomes, the diagnostic accuracy of screening tools, and adverse effects of screening and interventions. The evidence shows that women assigned to screening versus usual care can experience moderate improvements in IPV or health outcomes.

In addition, more women in the screened group discussed IPV with their clinician (44 percent versus 8 percent). Clinicians may use questionnaire or interview-type tools to screen women for IPV, which were shown to be accurate diagnostic tools. Few studies reported adverse effects of screening and interventions for IPV.

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