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Barriers to Screening and Possibilities for Active Detection of Family Medicine Attendees Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence

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In 1996 the World Health Organization declared intimate partner violence (IPV) the most important public health problem. Meta-analyses in 2013 showed every third female globally had been a victim of violence. Experts find screening controversial; family medicine is the preferred environment for identifying victims of violence, but barriers on both sides prevent patients from discussing it with doctors.


In July 2014, a qualitative study was performed through semi-structured interviews with ten family doctors of different ages and gender, working in rural or urban environments. Sound recordings of the interviews were transcribed, and the record verified. The data were interpreted using content analysis. A coding scheme was developed and later verified and analysed by two independent researchers. The text of the interviews was analysed according to the coding scheme.


Two coding schemes were developed: one for screening, and the other for the active detection of IPV. The main themes emerging as barriers to screening were lack of time, staff turnover, inadequate finance, ignorance of a clear definition, poor commitment to screening, obligatory follow-up, risk of deterioration of the doctor-patient relationship, and insincerity on the part of the patient. Additionally, cultural aspects of violence, uncertainty/helplessness, fear, lack of competence and qualifications, autonomy/negative experience, and passive role/stigma/fear on the part of the patients were barriers to active detection.


All the participating doctors had had previous experience with active detection of IPV and were aware of its importance. Due to several barriers to screening for violence they preferred active detection.

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Sujets de la revue:
Medicine, Clinical Medicine, Hygiene and Environmental Medicine