No Evidence to Support Domestic Violence Screening, Study


Researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Melbourne and colleagues found no evidence to support that screening helps victims (women) of domestic violence.

Screening involves several methods to determine whether a particular woman patient had been a victim of domestic abuse. The methods include face-to-face questions and computer surveys.

For the study, the researchers analyzed 11 trials involving 13,027 women in high-income countries on the effectiveness of intimate partner violence screening in primary care, antenatal care and emergency medicine departments.

The researchers found that although the complaints related to domestic abuse increased by 133 percent, women as primary complainants constituted just three to 17 percent. Plus, they did not find any proof that screening increased the use of domestic violence support services, reducing violence or enhancing standard of living and other outcomes for domestic violence survivors.

 "By looking at research trials carried out around the world, we found no evidence that screening improves access to specialist domestic violence support or leads to a reduction of violence. We need to shift the research focus towards developing effective care for survivors of domestic violence after they have disclosed, however they are identified," said Professor Gene Feder, from the University of Bristol's School of Social and Community Medicine, in a statement.

In December 2013, a University of California, Davis and the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study found that intensive screening could help recover guns from domestic violence offenders.

Domestic violence offenders are five to eight times more likely to kill their victims than those without firearms and are nearly eight times more likely to threaten partners with firearms.

"Intimate partner violence is a significant threat to the public's health and safety, especially for women, and firearms play a prominent role," said Garen Wintemute - director of the University of California, Davis Violence Prevention Research Program and lead author of the study - in a statement. "Women are at least twice as likely to be murdered by partners using a firearm than by strangers using any weapon."

Women who are victims of domestic violence, physical or sexual abuse, are 58 percent more likely to start smoking, according to a Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health study. Women, who are suffering from a serious mental illness, are nearly four times more likely to have been a victim of intimate partner violence than those without a disability, according to a Women's College Hospital study.

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