Partner abuse counseling for women insufficient

March 8, 2013

Only about one in five central Pennsylvania women who have experienced intimate partner violence is asked or counseled by a health care provider about abuse, according to Penn State medicine and public health science researchers. Overall, approximately only one in nine women has received preventive counseling about violence and safety.

"Our research shows that we (as a healthcare community) haven't been doing a good job of identifying and counseling about ," said Jennifer S. McCall-Hosenfeld, primary care physician and assistant professor of medicine and public health sciences, Penn State College of Medicine. Of those women who participated in the Central Pennsylvania Women's Health Study, she said, "Only 20 percent who had been exposed to intimate received safety and violence counseling in the two years following the abuse, and only 11 percent of all women had discussed violence and safety at home with a ."

McCall-Hosenfeld and colleagues Cynthia H. Chuang, associate professor of medicine and public health sciences, and Carol S. Weisman, Distinguished Professor of Sciences and Obstetrics and Gynecology, both at Penn State College of Medicine, examined services for women of reproductive age and how exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) was associated with relevant preventive healthcare services. The study focused on women who had reported experiencing IPV—specifically , and threats of either by a current or former partner or spouse.

More than a third of the women in the U.S. have experienced IPV, according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey conducted by the . The researchers point out that this abuse can lead to serious immediate and long-term health problems, as a result of inadequate preventive health care services.

Between 2004 and 2007 McCall-Hosenfeld and colleagues surveyed 1,420 women of reproductive age who were participating in the Central Pennsylvania Women's Health Study. The women responded to questions regarding violence, healthcare access, socio-economic status and whether they had received preventive healthcare services. The researchers report their results in an article published in the March/April issue of Women's Health Issues.

In the first survey the researchers established whether women had recently been exposed to IPV by asking them to respond "yes" or "no" to a series of questions. Each question was preceded by, "In the past 12 months, has a spouse, partner or boyfriend…" and completed with statements including

"Threatened to hit you or throw something at you?" and "Pushed, grabbed, shoved or slapped you?"

Two years after the first survey the researchers followed up with the women, asking about any preventive health care services and preventive counseling they had received over the past 24 months. Again, the women surveyed were asked to respond "yes" or "no" to a series of questions, including

"Have you been tested for sexually transmitted infections or HIV?" and "Has a doctor or health professional asked you or talked to you about concerns about safety or violence in your home?"

According to the study the findings represent "a missed opportunity for health promotion among women exposed to IPV."

"Our data suggest that many women who have been exposed to IPV are not being appropriately identified in health care settings and are not getting many of the they need," said McCall-Hosenfeld.

In January 2013 the United States Preventive Services Task Force released a guideline recommending that clinicians screen all women of reproductive age for IPV and help provide intervention services when necessary.

"We have a long way to go for healthcare to be in compliance with this guideline," said McCall-Hosenfeld. "We'll need to have a culture shift in many settings so that healthcare providers are comfortable with asking patients about IPV, patients are comfortable with being asked and the systems work to ensure that all patients get the services they need."

This study does not specifically address how to improve preventive services for those who have experienced IPV, McCall-Hosenfeld noted, but the need is now documented. She plans to continue research along this thread.

Chuang is also associate director of research of the division of general internal medicine, Penn State College of Medicine, and research director of the Penn State Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health Program. Weisman is also principal investigator for the Central Pennsylvania 's Health Study and associate dean for faculty affairs, Penn State College of Medicine.

Explore further: Screening for intimate partner violence proves beneficial

Related Stories

Screening for intimate partner violence proves beneficial

May 8, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Screening instruments can be used in the health care setting to accurately identify women who are experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV), with minimal adverse effects, according to a review published ...

Health-care providers can play critical role in reducing and preventing intimate partner violence

November 28, 2012
In a perspective article to appear in the Nov. 29 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health (BUSM and BUSPH) report that health-care providers can ...

UK study shows abuse may affect cancer-related well-being in female patients

January 25, 2013
A new study by University of Kentucky researchers shows evidence that certain forms of abuse negatively influence women cancer patients' quality of life.

Double damage: Partner violence impacts mental health of over half-million Californians

August 30, 2011
Victims who suffer violence at the hands of a spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, or other intimate partner aren't only brutalized physically; they also suffer disproportionately higher rates of mental health distress, according ...

Study suggests link between childhood bullying and adult intimate partner violence perpetration

June 6, 2011
Men who report having bullied peers in childhood appear to have an increased risk of perpetrating violence against an intimate partner in adulthood, according to a report posted online today by the Archives of Pediatrics ...

Recommended for you

Dog walking could be key to ensuring activity in later life

July 24, 2017
A new study has shown that regularly walking a dog boosts levels of physical activity in older people, especially during the winter.

Alcohol to claim 63,000 lives over next five years, experts warn

July 24, 2017
Alcohol consumption will cause 63,000 deaths in England over the next five years – the equivalent of 35 deaths a day – according to a new report from the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

App lets patients work alone or with others to prevent, monitor, and reverse chronic disease

July 24, 2017
Lack of patient adherence to treatment plans is a lingering, costly problem in the United States. But MIT Media Lab spinout Twine Health is proving that regular interventions from a patient's community of supporters can greatly ...

Alcohol boosts recall of earlier learning

July 24, 2017
Drinking alcohol improves memory for information learned before the drinking episode began, new research suggests.

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

High-fat diet in pregnancy can cause mental health problems in offspring

July 21, 2017
A high-fat diet not only creates health problems for expectant mothers, but new research in an animal model suggests it alters the development of the brain and endocrine system of their offspring and has a long-term impact ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.