A population-based survey assessing support for mandatory domestic violence reporting by health care personnel

Women Health. 2002;35(2-3):121-33. doi: 10.1300/J013v35n02_08.


Background: State laws mandating health care personnel to contact police when treating patients injured as a result of domestic violence are controversial. Attitudes toward these laws have been studied in select groups, but never in a large population-based sample.

Methods: We measured support for mandatory reporting (MR) among 845 women in 11 cities who participated in a telephone survey assessing risk factors for intimate partner violence. Abused women were oversampled to create equal groups (427 abused and 418 non-abused); results are presented stratified by abuse status or weighted based on prevalence of abuse among women who were screened.

Results: The estimated prevalence of physical violence or threat of physical violence from an intimate partner during the past two years was 11.7%; 72% (95% CI = 69%-75%) of women supported MR. Abused women were significantly less likely to support MR compared to non-abused women (59% versus 73%, p < 0.01). Reasons that endorsed support included: victims would find it easier to get help (81%) and would like health care personnel to call the police (68%). Reasons that endorsed opposition included: victims would be less likely to disclose abuse (77%), would resent someone else having control (61%), and reporting would increase the risk of perpetrator retaliation (44%).

Conclusions: Most women support mandatory reporting by health care personnel. However, abused women were significantly less supportive than those not abused.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Battered Women / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Mandatory Reporting*
  • Middle Aged
  • Police / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence
  • Spouse Abuse / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Spouse Abuse / prevention & control
  • United States
  • Women / psychology*