Thursday, December 01, 2005

Many Doctors Do Not Document Domestic Violence

Nearly a third of U.S. doctors surveyed in a recent poll said they don't keep a record when their patients report domestic violence, and 90 percent don't document domestic violence adequately, new research shows. Those inadequate doctors' reports also don't record whether the doctors offered support and information about domestic violence to patients who might have needed that type of assistance.

Reporting in the November 20 issue of the journal BMC Family Practice, researchers led by Megan Gerber of Harvard Medical School analyzed doctors' reports on 90 patients, all victims of domestic violence.

In 26 of those 90 cases, the doctor's report did not document that the patient had mentioned an incident of domestic violence, the researchers found. Only 10 percent of the doctors' reports recorded that the physician offered some information to patients about where to get help for domestic violence and assisted patients in developing a list of steps to remove themselves from the situation. A third of doctors surveyed said they didn't feel confident in counseling patients who reported domestic violence.

World Health Organization Finds Intimate Partner Violence Most Common Form of Violence in Women's Lives

The first-ever World Health Organization (WHO) study on domestic violence reveals that intimate partner violence is the most common form of violence in women’s lives - much more so than assault or rape by strangers or acquaintances. The study reports on the enormous toll physical and sexual violence by husbands and partners has on the health and well-being of women around the world and the extent to which partner violence is still largely hidden.

The study (which found that one in six women are victims of intimate partner violence) is based on interviews with more than 24 000 women from rural and urban areas in 10 countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, Japan, Namibia, Peru, Samoa, Serbia and Montenegro, Thailand, and the United Republic of Tanzania. The study's authors found one-quarter to one-half of all women who had been physically assaulted by their partners said they had suffered physical injuries. Abused women were twice as likely as non-abused women to have poor health and physical and mental problems such as pain or suicidal thoughts or attempts. At least 20 per cent of women who reported physical violence in the study never told anyone before they were interviewed. The report recommends changes to attitudes that perpetuate abuse. Recommendations include:

-Integrating violence prevention into health programs.
-Training health workers and police to identify and respond.
-Ensuring schools are safe places.
-Strengthening support systems for victims.