Simple Strategies Can Improve Identification and Documentation of Domestic Violence

Wednesday, May 17th, 2006
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

During an audio conference last week sponsored by HIN, “Designing, Implementing and Analyzing Effective Healthcare Toolkits,” Carolyn Wiener, project leader, health policy and social mission with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan described how a relatively simple toolkit on domestic violence has increased the awareness of domestic violence among its network providers; and won an award along the way.

Prior to the toolkit distribution:

* 36 percent of the physicians were unaware of Michigan’s reporting mandate for domestic violence; after the toolkit launch, 100 percent were now aware of the mandate.

* Prior to the toolkit launch 40 percent had little or no knowledge of domestic violence, but after the session 100 percent reported moderate to very knowledgeable in understanding domestic violence.

* Before the launch, only 58 percent routinely screened for domestic violence as compared to 96 percent who reported that they now screened all patients for domestic violence.

In light of the results of a new study by the Group Health Center for Health Studies that found that 44 percent of women reported having experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) during their adult lifetime, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s efforts should be recognized and mimicked.

There’s not only a social responsibility here for healthcare organizations, but a fiscal one as well.

The Group Health Center for Health Studies also found that the more recent a woman’s IPV, and the longer it has gone on, the worse her physical and mental health and social network are likely to be.

Compared to women with no IPV, women with recent physical IPV were four times as likely to report symptoms of severe depression and nearly three times as likely to report poor or fair health and more than one additional symptom. They also reported lower social functioning by several measures.

By employing a toolkit or other educational measures similar to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, healthcare organizations can not only help reduce the number of women (and men and children) who are affected by domestic violence, but also possibly reduce some of the comorbidities associated with domestic violence.

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