Domestic violence and primary care. Attitudes, practices, and beliefs

Arch Fam Med. 1999 Jul-Aug;8(4):301-6. doi: 10.1001/archfami.8.4.301.


Objective: To assess the attitudes and beliefs of the primary care provider team (physicians, physician assistants, nurses, and medical assistants) toward the identification and management of abused patients and perpetrators of domestic violence (DV).

Design: Survey of the health care team using a confidential questionnaire.

Setting and subjects: Five primary care clinics with 240 providers at a large urban health maintenance organization.

Results: The response rate was 86% (206 respondents). Fifty percent of clinicians and 70% of nurses/assistants believed that the prevalence of DV in their practice was 1% or loss; 1 in 10 clinicians and nearly half of nurses/assistants had never identified an abused person; 45% of clinicians never or seldom asked about DV when examining injured patients; and all participants were much less confident in asking about DV than about smoking or consuming alcohol. Twenty-five percent believed the abused person's personality led to the violence; 28% believed they did not have strategies to help abused persons; and 20% were concerned for their personal safety in discussing DV. Only 10% believed they had management information, but 77% had not attended any educational programs on DV in the past year.

Conclusions: This study provides important information about current knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of health care providers toward the diagnosis and management of DV. This information should prove useful to all who attempt to design clinical strategies and educational programs to address this issue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Domestic Violence*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Maintenance Organizations
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Staff / psychology*
  • Nursing Staff / psychology*
  • Patient Care Team
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Population
  • Washington
  • Workforce