Screening for domestic violence in primary care setting

Dov Steinmetz, Hava Tabenkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To assess the dimensions of the problem of domestic violence among patients in primary care practice. The study also aimed to examine the various kinds of violence and what family physicians know about the subject as it pertains to their patients. METHODS: A detailed questionnaire was distributed, randomly and without any pre-selection process, to patients over the age of 18 as they sat in the waiting room of their family doctor's clinic. The questionnaire was filled out anonymously, placed in an envelope, which was then sealed, and handed to one of the research assistants. In about half of the cases, the family physician also completed a doctor's questionnaire pertaining to those same patients. The physicians selected for the study were those who had worked for several years in the same medical practice and knew their patients well. The study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the "Emek Medical Center" in Afula, and each patient gave his/her informed consent to participate in the study and complete the questionnaire anonymously. RESULTS: A total of 517 patient questionnaires were collected, 16 of which were disqualified due to the patients' age (below 18 years). Concurrently, the physicians conveyed information pertaining to 268 patients. Of the participants in this study: 67.1% were females and 32.9% were males; 18.6% of the participants had been exposed to some form of domestic violence in the past, while 5% were currently being exposed to domestic violence. Women were slightly more 4.8%). exposed to violence than men (women - 5.1%, men The difference was not significant (P = 0.89). A total of 72% of those currently undergoing domestic violence had also suffered from it in the past. As to the kinds of violence: 60% are subjected to threats, 24% to beatings and 16% to rape or sexual abuse. The violence is perpetrated by the spouse in 58.3% of the cases. It was revealed that 33.3% of victims of domestic violence were in need of medical attention. It was found that the lower the education, the higher the incidence of domestic violence (P = 0.014). Moreover, among workers and students there is less incidence of violence than among the unemployed, pensioners and housewives (P < 0.0001). However, 48.5% of those who completed the questionnaire think that the family physician is not the "right source" for handling cases of domestic violence. CONCLUSION: In comparison to world literature, our study apparently has an under-reporting of cases of domestic violence by the participants. On the other hand, in most cases, the family physician is unaware of these cases of violence. The fact that only one-third of the victims of violence think that the physician is the right person to turn to with this problem, suggests that a deeper probe into the subject is necessary, by studying it and explaining it effectively to the public.

Original languageHebrew
Pages (from-to)978-981, 1030, 1029
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes


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