Identification and management of domestic violence: a randomized trial

Am J Prev Med. 2000 Nov;19(4):253-63. doi: 10.1016/s0749-3797(00)00231-2.


Background: Diagnosis of domestic violence (DV) in primary care is low compared to its prevalence. Care for patients is deficient. Over a 1-year period, we tested the effectiveness of an intensive intervention to improve asking about DV, case finding, and management in primary care. The intervention included skill training for providers, environmental orchestration (posters in clinical areas, DV questions on health questionnaires), and measurement and feedback.

Methods: We conducted a group-randomized controlled trial in five primary care clinics of a large health maintenance organization (HMO). Outcomes were assessed at baseline and follow-up by survey, medical record review, and qualitative means.

Results: Improved provider self-efficacy, decreased fear of offense and safety concerns, and increased perceived asking about DV were documented at 9 months, and also at 21 months (except for perceived asking) after intervention initiation. Documented asking about DV was increased by 14.3% with a 3.9-fold relative increase at 9 months in intervention clinics compared to controls. Case finding increased 1.3-fold (95%, confidence interval 0.67-2.7).

Conclusions: The intervention improved documented asking about DV in practice up to 9 months later. This was mainly because of the routine use of health questionnaires containing DV questions at physical examination visits and the placement of DV posters in clinical areas. A small increase in case finding also resulted. System changes appear to be a cost-effective method to increase DV asking and identification.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Domestic Violence / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Patient Care / methods*
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results