Updated Guidance for Medical Professionals: Screen for Abuse

Posted by GWEN
Posted on January 25, 2013

A recent article on CNN.com reported that the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force
(USTSPF) updated its guidance on domestic violence screening recommending
that all women of childbearing age be screened for abuse, and women who screen
positive should be provided or referred to intervention services.

This comes at a time when roughly one-third of women and one-quarter of men
report experiencing some form of domestic violence, also referred to as inter-
partner violence, during their lifetime. Unfortunately, while these statistics are
alarming, the numbers are almost certainly worse, due to the systematic under-
reporting of abuse.

“We have made significant progress in building the evidence base to effectively
prevent violence against women,” said Dr. Virginia Moyer, chair of the USPSTF, in a
written statement. “We now have the primary care methods and the means to help
prevent violence against women in their reproductive years.”

The task force continued to say “that although abuse of men, abuse of middle-aged
women and abuse and neglect of elderly and vulnerable (physically or mentally
dysfunctional) adults can have equally devastating consequences as violence among
younger women, there is currently not enough evidence about how primary care
clinicians can effectively screen and intervene.”

Principal problems include the lack of standards as to how clinicians should
question patients about abuse; varying definitions of abuse; lack of screening tools,
unclear guidance on who to screen, and what to do if abuse is identified.

The task force also issued a draft statement on primary care interventions to
prevent child abuse.

“The bottom line,” said task force member and pediatrician Dr. David Grossman, “is
that more research is needed on how primary care clinicians can effectively screen
and protect all populations, including older and vulnerable adults, middle-aged
women, men, and children, from abuse and violence.”

Source: CNN.com, Mon January 21, 2013, http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/21/

Categories: Domestic Violence, battered women, child abuse, elder abuse, sexual
abuse, articles, verbal abuse, emotional abuse