Objective: To assess rates of previous domestic violence (DV) training, current screening practices, and barriers to screening among Connecticut pediatric primary care physicians.
Design: Self-administered mail survey.
Setting: State of Connecticut.
Participants: Pediatricians and pediatric care-providing family practice physicians (N = 903).
Results: The response rate was 49% (n = 438). The demographic characteristics of the response sample were as follows: 70% male, 76% older than 40 years, 84% white, 87% in private practice, and 64% in suburban practice. Only 12% of the physicians reported routinely screening for DV at all well-child care visits, 61% reported screening only selective patients, and 30% said they did not screen for DV at all. Sixteen percent of the physicians reported having an office protocol for dealing with victims of DV. Respondents practicing in an urban setting were significantly more likely to screen routinely for DV than those practicing in a suburban setting (odds ratio, 1.77; 95% confidence interval, 1.12-2.79). Prior DV training was the strongest predictor of routine screening (odds ratio, 5.17; 95% confidence interval, 3.13-8.56). In fact, respondents with previous training made up 64% of those who routinely screened for DV.
Conclusions: Only a minority of Connecticut pediatric care physicians routinely screen mothers for DV. Primary care physicians with education and training about DV are screening at higher rates than physicians with no education and training. Pediatric physicians need training, protocols, and best-practice models on how to identify and intervene with families experiencing DV.