Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is common in primary care; 11% to 22% of women experienced physical abuse in the past year. Older women experience IPV as well, but it is often undetected. This study examined primary care providers' awareness about IPV in older women, including their screening practices and management.
Methods: Interviews and focus groups were conducted with 44 primary care providers. Thematic analysis was used to identify common themes.
Results: Providers fell along a continuum of thoroughness for identifying and managing IPV in older women, ranging from suboptimal to thorough identification of IPV and suboptimal to thorough management of the patient. In addition to the barriers commonly reported about IPV screening in younger women, providers described limited understanding of the diagnoses commonly associated with IPV, frustration with older women's unwillingness to disclose problems and ask for help, and limited community services that accommodate older women with IPV. Providers recommended that communities sponsor public awareness campaigns about IPV as a problem for all women and that aging and IPV agencies work together.
Conclusions: Continued provider training about IPV should include information on identifying older victims and appropriate management options. Participants stressed the importance of community efforts to raise awareness and improve resources available for older women who are victims of IPV.