Screening for Intimate Partner Violence, Elder Abuse, and Abuse of Vulnerable Adults: US Preventive Services Task Force Final Recommendation Statement

JAMA. 2018 Oct 23;320(16):1678-1687. doi: 10.1001/jama.2018.14741.


Importance: Intimate partner violence (IPV) and abuse of older or vulnerable adults are common in the United States but often remain undetected. In addition to the immediate effects of IPV, such as injury and death, there are other health consequences, many with long-term effects, including development of mental health conditions such as depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and suicidal behavior; sexually transmitted infections; unintended pregnancy; and chronic pain and other disabilities. Long-term negative health effects from elder abuse include death, higher risk of nursing home placement, and adverse psychological consequences.

Objective: To update the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) 2013 recommendation on screening for IPV, elder abuse, and abuse of vulnerable adults.

Evidence review: The USPSTF commissioned a review of the evidence on screening for IPV in adolescents, women, and men; for elder abuse; and for abuse of vulnerable adults.

Findings: The USPSTF concludes with moderate certainty that screening for IPV in women of reproductive age and providing or referring women who screen positive to ongoing support services has a moderate net benefit. There is adequate evidence that available screening instruments can identify IPV in women. The evidence does not support the effectiveness of brief interventions or the provision of information about referral options in the absence of ongoing supportive intervention components. The evidence demonstrating benefit of ongoing support services is predominantly found in studies of pregnant or postpartum women. The benefits and harms of screening for elder abuse and abuse of vulnerable adults are uncertain, and the balance of benefits and harms cannot be determined.

Conclusions and recommendation: The USPSTF recommends that clinicians screen for IPV in women of reproductive age and provide or refer women who screen positive to ongoing support services. (B recommendation) The USPSTF concludes that the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening for abuse and neglect in all older or vulnerable adults. (I statement).

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Elder Abuse / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence* / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • United States
  • Vulnerable Populations*
  • Young Adult