Applied Evidence

It’s time to start asking all patients about intimate partner violence

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Closing the screen and making a referral

The end of the interview should consist of a summary of topics discussed, including:

  • changes that the patient wants to make (if any)
  • their stated reasons for making those changes
  • the patient’s plan for accomplishing changes.

Physicians should also include their own role in next steps—whether providing a warm handoff to a local IPV referral, agreeing to a follow-up schedule with the patient, or making a call as a mandated reporter. To close out the interview, it is important to affirm respect for the patient’s autonomy in executing the plan.

It’s important to screen all patients—here’s why

A major impetus for this article has been to raise awareness about the need for expanded IPV screening across primary care settings. As mentioned, much of the literature on IPV victimization has focused on women; however, the few epidemiological investigations of victimization rates among men and members of LGBT couples show a high rate of victimization and considerable harmful health outcomes. Driven by stigma surrounding IPV, sex, and sexual minority status, patients might have expectations that they will be judged by a provider or “outed.”

Such barriers can lead many to suffer in silence until the problem can no longer be hidden or the danger becomes more emergent. Compassionate, nonjudgmental screening and collaborative safety planning—such as the approach we describe in this article—help ease the concerns of LGBT victims of IPV and improve the likelihood that conversations you have with them will occur earlier, rather than later, in care.*

Underassessment of IPV (ie, underreporting as well as under-inquiry) because of stigma, misconception, and other factors obscures an accurate estimate of the rate of partner violence and its consequences for all couples. As a consequence, we know little about the dynamics of IPV, best practices for screening, and appropriate referral for couples from these populations. Furthermore, few resources are available to these understudied and underserved groups (eg, shelters for men and for transgender people).

Continue to: Although our immediate approach to IPV screening...

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