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Task Force Urges Routine Screening of Women for Domestic Violence
Date:1/21/2013

an independent group of national experts -- reviewed available evidence and found a number of effective, easy-to-use screening tools for women of childbearing age. Grossman said that there wasn't enough evidence to recommend screening for men or for older women and men, and that this is an area that needs more research.

The screenings by primary care doctors may be done as written tests or as interviews, and include questions such as: In the past year, have you ever been afraid of a partner? Have you ever been in a relationship where your partner pushed or slapped you?

The screening tools aren't perfect, however. Available studies suggest that they can correctly identify between roughly 62 percent and 96 percent of women experiencing domestic violence.

Women who were screened were far more likely (44 percent) to discuss domestic violence with their doctor compared to women who weren't screened (8 percent).

Available studies assessing interventions found modest improvements in domestic violence, with no harm reported for the intervention, according to the recommendation.

Haldane cautioned that "doctors and other health-care professionals have to be robustly trained on how to speak with someone who's had family violence, and not all doctors necessarily have the bedside manner or training for this." They will also need to know where to refer patients, she said.

Grossman said physicians usually know what resources are available in their community, and he noted that under the Affordable Care Act, screening and referral services will be reimbursable.

Haldane said if you have concerns about a loved one, the most important thing you can do is support her. "It's very hard to disclose abuse, and women often won't reach out for help because they don't feel like they have support," Haldane said.

Call your local domestic violence agency, and find out how to help, she advised. "You can give your loved one the name of a lawyer
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