Purpose: To test an educational intervention regarding domestic violence.
Method: Residents beginning their training in 1995 or 1996 were randomly assigned to attend, at their hospital orientation, either a 20-minute session emphasizing the importance of screening for domestic violence or a session on an unrelated topic.
Results: Seventy-one percent of the residents in the experimental group diagnosed domestic violence; 52% in the control did so (RR, 1.35; 95% CI, 0.96-1.90; p = .07) in the nine to 12 months following the intervention. Rates of diagnosis differed by specialty (p < .01): 100% family practice, 90% emergency medicine, 80% obstetrics-gynecology, 63% pediatrics, 47% internal medicine, 0% surgery. Change in knowledge was assessed in 1996; significant improvement was noted (p = .002).
Conclusion: An intervention about domestic violence conducted at orientation for residents improved the rate of diagnosis of domestic violence. While the improvement was not statistically significant in this case, the intervention was brief and harmless. Other institutions should consider this kind of brief intervention.