Screening for domestic violence: Practice patterns, knowledge, and attitudes of physicians in Arizona

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Southern Medical Journal


Objectives: Victims of domestic violence presenting for health care are frequently referred to medical specialists, but little is known about domestic violence screening among specialists. The aim of this study was to evaluate attitudes and behaviors concerning domestic violence of all physicians in Arizona. Methods: A cross-sectional survey of 2,244 physicians from 13 medical specialties describes domestic violence screening practices, attitudes, and behaviors of practicing physicians in Arizona. Results: Among 976 respondents, 56% reported prior education on domestic violence screening; 50.5% rarely or never screen their female patients for domestic violence; and 52% reported their competence for providing treatment for victims as poor to fair. Physicians from emergency medicine, psychiatry, obstetrics/gynecology, and family practice reported higher rates of domestic violence education, screening, awareness of services, and competence at treating victims. Physical medicine/ rehabilitation, anesthesiology/pain control, surgical subspecialty, medicine subspecialty, general surgery, and orthopedic physicians scored lowest on these characteristics. Conclusions: Differences in attitudes and behaviors regarding domestic violence screening were noted among specialty groups. Customizing physician training based on these findings may be beneficial.

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