Training internal medicine residents to screen for domestic violence

J Womens Health Gend Based Med. 2000 Mar;9(2):167-74. doi: 10.1089/152460900318669.


Internal medicine residency programs will need to train residents about domestic violence to comply with the Residency Review Commission standards. To assess the effectiveness of an educational intervention intended to increase screening of patients for domestic violence by internal medicine resident physicians and identify characteristics associated with increased screening, we used a quasi-experimental, pretest/posttest trial. This was conducted in an internal medicine residency program and its affiliated primary care clinic with categorical internal medicine and combined medicine/pediatrics resident physicians. Exit interview surveys of patients were conducted at baseline and following the educational program. Patients were questioned about demographics and if they were asked about domestic violence during the current visit. Physicians were questioned about demographics and attitudes and beliefs related to domestic violence. Prior to the intervention, only 0.8% (1 of 122) of patients reported being asked about domestic violence. After the intervention, the percentage asked rose to 17% (20 of 116). The odds ratio (OR) for being asked about domestic violence after training was 25.2 (6.1-104). Patients who were younger than 50 years were more likely to be asked (OR 2.5, 1.5-4.6). Caucasian physicians were more likely to ask (OR 2.8, 1.1-7.6). Patients reporting they were taught breast self-examination at that day's visit were also more likely to be screened (OR 2.9, 1.1-7.9). We found evidence that moderately intense training and focusing on results can increase resident physician screening rates for domestic violence. To do so effectively, we recommend a training session similar to this one and continued monitoring of outcome in the clinical setting.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Demography
  • Domestic Violence*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / organization & administration
  • Ethnic Groups
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / organization & administration*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Physicians / psychology