1. Kayyali, Andrea MSN, RN
  2. Rosenberg, Karen


According to this study:


* Available screening tools are effective in detecting intimate partner violence, and interventions help certain victims of abuse.


* The potential for adverse effects resulting from screening or intervention is low.



Article Content

Intimate partner violence (IPV) affects 1.3 to 5.3 million women a year, according to current research estimates. Eight years ago, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force could not support the routine screening of women for IPV, citing a lack of adequate evidence warranting its use. Revisiting the question this year, researchers performed a new review of scientific studies, which included those published since 2004, that dealt with the success of screening tools designed to detect IPV, specifically in women presenting with an unrelated issue at a health care facility; how well interventions work to reduce IPV; and any adverse effects resulting from the tools or treatment.


The literature search covered the years 2002 through 2012 and included only English-language studies and reviews. The researchers considered study design, quality, populations, and outcomes in the 36 studies that met the inclusion criteria.


One large randomized controlled trial on the effectiveness of screening asymptomatic women for IPV or risk of IPV showed no statistically significant differences between the screened and nonscreened arms, although both groups had reduced incidences of recurring IPV and positive gains in quality-of-life scores (it should be noted that all of the women were given printed information on IPV, whether they were screened or not). In 15 studies concerning the diagnostic utility of screening tools, six of 13 tools evaluated had sensitivity and specificity of at least 80% in detecting IPV.


Six randomized controlled trials involved interventions for IPV, such as counseling, home visits, and referrals to community services, which resulted in reductions in partner violence and in some cases produced better birth outcomes in pregnant women experiencing IPV. Of the 14 studies evaluating adverse effects of screening or intervention, three randomized controlled trials found no adverse effects at all, and 11 descriptive studies generally found few adverse effects among those screened; adverse effects reported were emotional strain and a loss of privacy.


In light of the newer studies, the task force concluded that "screening instruments designed for health care settings can accurately identify women experiencing IPV."-AK




Nelson HD, et al. Ann Intern Med. 2012;156(11):796-808