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IPV Screening and Referral Practices in an Outpatient Care Setting.

Clark, Renner, & Logeais. (2017).

Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 1 – 12.


Health care providers who screen for IPV and counsel patients can reduce victimization and positively impact women’s health, yet few routinely screen patients. This study describes barriers to screening and outlines the actual views of patients.

Expanded Abstract:

Health care providers who screen for intimate partner violence (IPV) and counsel patients can reduce victimization and positively impact women’s health; yet only 21% of females report disclosing IPV to a health care provider (Black et al., 2011) and only 2% to 50% of medical professionals report routinely screening female patients (Alvarez, Fedock, Grace, & Campbell, 2016). Common barriers including lack of privacy, time, reimbursement, training, protocols, and response options, as well as discomfort with the issue, fear of offending patients, and perceptions that such inquiry is outside their scope of work (Alvarez et al., 2016; Sprague et al., 2012). Patients, on the other hand, are generally open to the inquiry (Todahl & Walters, 2011). The purpose of this study was to identify current practices, policies, and barriers for a coordinated and routinized response to IPV in an outpatient academic primary care clinic. Data were collected through interviews and the Physician Readiness to Manage Intimate Partner Violence questionnaire. Data on IPV screening practices over a 5-month period were also available through the electronic health record. Study participants expressed that there was no uniform method of documenting screening results and great variability in the patient populations and circumstances that prompted screening. Over two thirds of the survey respondents reported either a lack of IPV protocol or a lack of knowledge about one if it existed. Providers and staff who participated believed it was within their scope of work to screen for IPV and recognized IPV as a serious health threat; however, they cited an absence of patient education resources, a lack of staff training and awareness, and no established IPV referral network as barriers to screening for IPV. The results of the pilot are in line with existing research highlighting a general lack of screening, variability in process, and the absence of systems-level policies and protocols and linkages to community resources.