A Scoping Review of Intimate Partner Violence Screening Programs for Health Care Professionals

PLoS One. 2016 Dec 15;11(12):e0168502. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0168502. eCollection 2016.


Introduction: Between 38 and 59 percent of women presenting to health care professionals have experienced intimate partner violence. Consequently, multiple intimate partner violence identification or screening programs within health care settings have been developed; however, substantial variations in program content and interpretation of program effectiveness has resulted in conflicting practice guidelines. The purpose of our scoping review is to broadly identify and synthesize the available literature evaluating intimate partner violence identification programs within health care settings to identify key areas for potential evidence-based recommendations and to focus research priorities in the field.

Materials and methods: We conducted a search of MEDLINE, Embase, Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and psycINFO. We used broad eligibility criteria to identify studies that evaluated intimate partner violence identification programs in health care settings. We completed all screening and data extraction independently and in duplicate. We used descriptive statistics to summarize all data.

Results: We identified 59 eligible studies evaluating intimate partner violence identification programs within health care settings. The most commonly reported outcome themes were IPV disclosure (69%, n = 35), number of patients screened (39%, n = 20), HCP opinions towards screening (37%, n = 19), and patient opinions towards screening (29%, n = 15). The majority of studies (36 studies (70.6%)) reported positive program evaluation results.

Discussion: The majority of studies reported positive program evaluation results. This may suggest that many different intimate partner violence identification programs are beneficial for identifying victims of abuse, however, it remains unknown as to whether identification programs prevent future episodes of abuse. Additionally, the substantial heterogeneity of the intervention characteristics, study methodology, and outcome measures assessed limits the ability to make clear recommendations as to the optimal method(s) of screening.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence / statistics & numerical data
  • Program Evaluation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Spouse Abuse / statistics & numerical data*

Grant support

This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca) (KRS – 140988). Funding was received by SS, MB, GS, and AS. The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.