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Task Force suggests screening for domestic violence

Tuesday January 22, 2013
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The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has released a final recommendation on screening women of childbearing age for intimate partner violence, and screening elderly or vulnerable adults to prevent abuse or neglect.

The Task Force also released a draft statement regarding interventions to prevent the maltreatment of children, including child abuse or neglect, from birth to age 18.

Intimate partner violence, or domestic abuse, affects as many as one in three women and one in four men during their lifetime. This abuse can cause serious immediate and long-term health consequences for those affected and often goes undetected or unreported. New research shows that screening and support programs offered in primary care can help prevent violence against women.

As a result, the Task Force states that clinicians should screen all women of childbearing age for intimate partner violence and provide women who screen positive with intervention services, or refer them to such services.

"We have made significant progress in building the evidence base to effectively prevent violence against women," Virginia Moyer, MD, MPH, chairwoman of the Task Force, said in a news release. "We now have the primary care methods and the means to help prevent violence against women in their reproductive years."

In the same final statement, the Task Force also found that although abuse of men, abuse of middle-aged women and abuse and neglect of elderly and vulnerable adults can have equally devastating consequences as intimate partner violence inflicted on younger women. there is not enough evidence about how primary care clinicians can effectively screen and intervene.

These final recommendations are available at www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspsipv.htm.

Child maltreatment

In a separate draft statement, the Task Force determined there is not enough evidence about how primary care clinicians can intervene to prevent abuse among children who show no signs of maltreatment.

"The bottom line is that more research is needed on how primary care clinicians can effectively screen and protect all populations — including older and vulnerable adults, middle-aged women, men and children — from abuse and violence," said Task Force member and pediatrician David Grossman, MD, MPH.

The Task Force will accept comments on the draft recommendation statement through Feb. 18 and will consider all comments as it develops its final recommendation. To read the recommendation and comment, visit www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/draftrec.htm.


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