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Screening method can play role in disclosure of intimate partner violence

Reported prevalence rates for intimate partner violence can vary, depending on the screening method, type of questionnaire used and health care setting, and women prefer self-completed questionnaires, compared to face-to-face interviews, according to a study in the August 2 issue of JAMA, a theme issue on violence and human rights.

As intimate partner violence (IPV) has gained recognition as a major public health problem, research efforts have focused on the development of universal screening instruments and protocols for use in health care settings to identify women exposed to IPV, according to background information in the article. Previous studies have demonstrated that women will disclose experiences of violence in response to screening; however, few studies have compared methods of screening.

Harriet L. MacMillan, M.D., of McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and colleagues compared two screening instruments with the goal of determining an optimal method of screening for IPV in health care settings, based on 3 criteria: (1) 12-month prevalence, (2) extent of missing data, and (3) participant preference. The study included women age 18 to 64 years who were well enough to participate and could be seen individually. Of 2,602 eligible women, 141 (5 percent) refused participation. The randomized trial was conducted from May 2004 to January 2005 at 2 each of emergency departments, family practices, and women's health clinics in Ontario, Canada.

Participants were randomized to 1 of 3 screening approaches: a face-to-face interview with a health care provider (physician or nurse), written self-completed questionnaire, and computer-based self-completed questionnaire. Two screening instrumentsthe Partner Violence Screen (PVS) and the Woman Abuse Screening Tool (WAST)were administered and compared with the Composite Abuse Scale (CAS) as the criterion standard.

The researchers found that the 12-month prevalence of IP
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Contact: Sue Johnston
905-525-9140
JAMA and Archives Journals
1-Aug-2006


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