MONDAY, Jan. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Physicians should screen all women of childbearing age for signs of domestic violence and refer them for treatment if necessary, a new recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says.
"Screening for intimate partner violence in women works, and there are a number of interventions that have been found to be effective," said task force member Dr. David Grossman, a senior investigator at the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle.
The new recommendation, published in the Jan. 22 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, applies to women with no apparent symptoms of abuse.
In the United States, nearly one-third of women and more than one-quarter of men have been victims of domestic violence, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As many as 25 percent of women and 14 percent of men have experienced severe forms of domestic violence.
Besides risking injury and death, people who experience domestic violence may also develop sexually transmitted diseases, pelvic inflammatory disease, unintended pregnancies, chronic pain, neurological disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse and suicidal behavior. Domestic violence in women is also linked to preterm birth and low birthweight babies.
One expert welcomed the new recommendation.
"To have the health field involved in working with women and trying to identify women who have family violence experiences is a great idea. If you can identify abuse early on, you can minimize its impact," said Hillary Haldane, an assistant professor of anthropology at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn.
"People look up to doctors, and to have a well-trained doctor saying they support you is really important," she added.
To arrive at its recommendation, the task force --
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