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Domestic Violence Screening, Referral Found Ineffective

Screening and referral to a clinician does not reduce violence, report suggests

TUESDAY, Aug. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Screening for domestic violence followed by referral to a clinician does not reduce the recurrence of violence among women, according to a study in the Aug. 5 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Harriet L. MacMillan, M.D., from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, and colleagues surveyed 6,743 women regarding intimate partner violence (emotional, physical, or sexual violence) in the past year. In the randomly screened group, women completed the survey before visiting their clinician, which was given to their clinician if positive. Women in the randomly non-screened group completed the survey after their visit.

The researchers found that 347 women in the screened group and 360 women in the non-screened group had positive results. However, attrition up to 18 months later was high, with losses of 43 percent of screened women and 41 percent of non-screened women. Among the 411 women with results at 18 months, recurrence of intimate partner violence among screened and non-screened women was similar (46 versus 53 percent). Screened women had a greater improvement in quality-of-life scores, but this was no longer significant after further analysis.

The study "should dispel any illusions that universal screening with passive referrals to community services is an adequate response to violence in intimate relationships," write the authors of an accompanying editorial.

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