Overcoming Barriers to Screening for Intimate Partner Violence in Family Practice Settings
Dickson, Vicki Lynn
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An estimated two to five million women are assaulted annually by an intimate partner, and 25% of women report a lifetime history of partner abuse (Gerber, Ganz & Lichter, 2005). In the United States annual costs of intimate partner rape, physical assault, and stalking exceeds $5.8 billion, nearly 4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health care services (Plichta, 2004). Intimate partner violence (lPV) is a significant public health problem that has both short-term and long-term physical and mental health consequences for women and their families. Despite the statistics, magnitude of health consequences, and cost to society, less than 10% of providers routinely ask about IPV (Zink, 2007). Providers need to recognize that women who are victims of IPV will be patients in every family medicine practice in this country because one in every four women has been a victim at some point in her life and one in seven women has been victimized in the past year (American Academy of Family Physicians [AAFP], 2005). This paper focuses on the staggering statistics surrounding IPV, current screening practices, and the significant victim, provider, and systemic barriers that prevent adequate screening, treatment, and prevention of IPV. It also highlights the fact that overcoming these barriers requires a collaboration of changes in victim and provider attitudes, an increase in provider education and training, consistent screening techniques, and availability of multiple on and off-site resources.