Background: The aim of this study was to describe New England dental professionals' attitudes and behaviours regarding domestic violence (DV) and to identify barriers faced in intervening to help suspected victims.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey using a convenience sample of dentists (n = 169) and hygienists (n = 190) attending the 2004 Yankee Dental Conference in Boston, MA was conducted. Data were collected using a questionnaire assessing screening practices, actions taken, deterrents in identification and referral, prior DV education and perceived need for DV education. Descriptive, bivariate and multivariate analyses were performed.
Results: Dentists and hygienist were very similar in their attitudes and behaviours regarding DV. Dental professionals who had received prior DV education were more likely to screen for DV (p <or=0.0001) and to take action when DV was suspected (p = 0.0006) compared to those who had not received prior DV education.
Conclusions: Results indicate a need for DV education for dental professionals to improve abuse recognition and enhance intervention.