Intimate partner violence: Opening the door to a safer future.

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Date: Sept. 2022
From: Journal of Family Practice(Vol. 71, Issue 7)
Publisher: Jobson Medical Information LLC
Document Type: Clinical report
Length: 2,482 words
Lexile Measure: 1730L

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These recommendations can help you to identify patients at risk of violence, create an environment where they feel comfortable disclosing their experiences, and help them plan for their safety.


Louise T* is a 42-year-old woman who presented to her family medicine office for a routine annual visit. During the exam, her physician noticed bruises on Ms. T's arms and back. Upon further inquiry, Ms. T reported that she and her husband had argued the night before the appointment. With some hesitancy, she went on to say that this was not the first time this had happened. She said that she and her husband had been arguing frequently for several years and that 6 months earlier, when he lost his job, he began hitting and pushing her.


Intimate partner violence (IPV) includes physical, sexual, or psychological aggression or stalking perpetrated by a current or former relationship partner. (1) IPV affects more than 12 million men and women living in the United States each year. (2) According to a national survey of IPV, approximately one-third (35.6%) of women and one-quarter (28.5%) of men living in the United States experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime. (2) Lifetime exposure to psychological IPV is even more prevalent, affecting nearly half of women and men (48.4% and 48.8%, respectively). (2)

Lifetime prevalence of any form of IPV is higher among women who identify as bisexual (59.8%) and lesbian (46.3%) compared with those who identify as heterosexual (37.2%); rates are comparable among men who identify as heterosexual (31.9%), bisexual (35.3%), and gay (35.1%). (3) Preliminary data suggest that IPV may have increased in frequency and severity during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the context of mandated shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders. (4-6)

IPV is associated with numerous negative health consequences. They include fear and concern for safety, mental health disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and physical health problems including physical injury, chronic pain, sleep disturbance, and frequent headaches. (2) IPV is also associated with a greater number of missed days from school and work and increased utilization of legal, health care, and housing services. (2,7) The overall annual cost of IPV against women is estimated at $5.8 billion, with health care costs accounting for approximately $4.1 billion. (7) Family physicians can play an important role in curbing the devastating effects of IPV by screening patients and providing resources when needed.


In Ms. T's case, evidence of violence was clearly visible. However, not all instances of IPV leave physical marks. The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that all women of childbearing age be screened for IPV, whether or not they exhibit signs of violence. (8) While the USPSTF has only published recommendations regarding screening women for IPV, there has been a recent push to screen all patients given that men also experience high rates of IPV. (9)

Utilize a brief screening...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A722030327