We undertook a synthesis of existing studies to re-evaluate the evidence on program mechanisms of intimate partner violence (IPV) universal screening and disclosure within a health care context by addressing how, for whom, and in what circumstances these programs work. Our review is informed by a realist review approach, which focuses on program mechanisms. Systematic, realist reviews can help reveal why and how interventions work and can yield information to inform policies and programs. A review of the scholarly literature from January 1990 to July 2010 identified 5046 articles, 23 of which were included in our study. We identified studies on 17 programs that evaluated IPV screening. We found that programs that took a comprehensive approach (i.e., incorporated multiple program components, including institutional support) were successful in increasing IPV screening and disclosure/identification rates. Four program components appeared to increase provider self-efficacy for screening, including institutional support, effective screening protocols, thorough initial and ongoing training, and immediate access/referrals to onsite and/or offsite support services. These findings support a multi-component comprehensive IPV screening program approach that seeks to build provider self-efficacy for screening. Further implications for IPV screening intervention planning and implementation in health care settings are discussed.
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