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Screening Women for Domestic Violence Could Help Prevent Abuse
Date:5/8/2012

By Carina Storrs
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, May 8 (HealthDay News) -- Routine screening of women for domestic violence could reduce cases of abuse and injuries, a new analysis indicates.

The review of recent studies, which was commissioned by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), also found that general screening for domestic violence did not appear to harm women.

The task force will use the review to decide whether to update its 2004 guidelines, which state that there is not enough evidence about the benefits and harms of domestic violence screening to recommend it to doctors.

The task force will probably make a final decision on new guidelines within a few weeks of the current review, which was published online May 7 in Annals of Internal Medicine, said review author Dr. Heidi Nelson, a clinical epidemiologist at the Oregon Evidence-based Practice Center in Portland.

"It's definitely a stronger set of studies than we looked at before," said Nelson, who was involved in the review that informed the 2004 guidelines.

The current review evaluated all the studies that have looked at the effects of domestic violence screening in clinics, the treatments that screening led to, and the effectiveness of screening methods that had been published since the review for the 2004 guidelines.

"The task force recommendations are not mandates, but often a strong recommendation by the task force leads to a standard of care and insurance coverage," Nelson said.

Several organizations for medical professionals, including the Institute of Medicine (IOM), already support the routine screening of patients for domestic violence.

"The USPSTF recommendations tend to be more rigorous, and more user-friendly [and] accessible, so I think they are more used than IOM's," said Dr. Adam Zolotor, a family physician in the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Zolotor has concerns
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