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Brief screening for domestic violence doesn't help, study shows

August 14, 2012|By Mary MacVean, Los Angeles Times

Women who were screened for partner violence and given a list of resources to help didn’t have better health or less partner violence a year later than women who were not screened, researchers found.

The research follows a call from numerous public health agencies, including the Institute of Medicine, for such screening, the researchers wrote in Tuesday’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Assn. They note that several other agencies including the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force have concluded there’s not enough evidence to support the screening.

The journal article’s authors speculated that the intervention might not have been often enough or intensive enough to make a difference.

The study looked at 2,364 women in 2009-10 in Illinois who sought primary care. The women were divided into three groups: One got screening and the resource list; one got the resource list; and the third got neither. The women were contacted a year later to see how they were doing.

The screening was a computer-assisted self-interview done in private; those who answered yes to one or more questions -- such as whether they felt safe in their relationship -- were shown a video about partner violence assistance. Others were just given a list of resources.

The researchers wanted to see the effect on quality of life, days lost from work or other activities, use of violence services, and the recurrence of violence.

At the one-year follow-up, they found the group that was screened had no significant difference from the two groups that were not. Nearly 10% of the women reported that they had experienced partner violence in the course of the year since the study began.

“Showing a video encouraging the use of referral resources along with a printed list of partner violence resources may also be considered too brief of an intervention to expect an effect,” the researchers wrote.

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