Physicians' Experiences with Male Patients Who Perpetrate Intimate Partner Violence

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Despite the prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV), there is a paucity of research exploring the role that physicians might play in intervening with IPV perpetrators.


A qualitative study explored interactions between family medicine physicians and male perpetrators of IPV. Fifteen physicians were purposefully sampled from 1 hospital system. The physicians were individually interviewed using a semistructured interview guide, and interview transcripts were analyzed using techniques from grounded theory.


Three main themes relating to physicians' experiences were identified: (1) how physicians learned of or identified IPV perpetration by men (usually disclosure by the victim, but perpetrators also disclosed it); (2) how physicians assessed for comorbidities or responded to IPV perpetration by men; and (3) facilitators of and barriers to physician identification of and response to IPV perpetration by men. Facilitators identified include having a trusting relationship with the perpetrator and support services, whereas barriers consisted of strong negative emotions and a lack of training.


Family medicine physicians in this sample reported feeling underprepared to serve patients whom they know are perpetrators of IPV, particularly if they are also providing care to the victim. Additional research is needed to develop interventions and effective trainings.

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