Physician beliefs about victims of spouse abuse and about the physician role

J Womens Health Gend Based Med. 2000 May;9(4):405-11. doi: 10.1089/15246090050020727.


Our purpose was to measure the beliefs of physicians about victims of spouse abuse and to examine factors related to holding positive (e.g., supportive) and negative beliefs about providing services to victims of domestic violence. This was a total site sample of 150 physicians (76 responded; RR 51%), surveyed at one time, practicing in a large general hospital and the surrounding urban/periurban area. Four specialities are represented: emergency medicine, family practice, obstetrics-gynecology, and psychiatry. Three aspects of beliefs are measured: beliefs toward physician role in assisting victims of spouse abuse, beliefs about victims of spouse abuse, and beliefs about resources available to physicians to assist victims of spouse abuse. Almost all (97%) physicians believe it is part of their role to assist victims of domestic violence. Almost one third (30%) hold victim-blaming attitudes toward victims of spouse abuse, and the majority (70%) do not believe that they have the resources available to them to assist victims of domestic violence. Being female, younger, practicing obstetrics-gynecology, and having fewer years in practice are all significantly related to holding supportive (positive) beliefs. The majority of negative beliefs held are about resource availability. Hence, training programs may need to be developed locally for physicians and tailored to individual community characteristics. Training programs should also emphasize the importance of understanding the victims of spouse abuse and of not blaming the victims for the violence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Crime Victims*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician's Role*
  • Southeastern United States
  • Spouse Abuse* / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women's Health Services*