To ascertain the current knowledge base and screening practices of obstetrician-gynecologists in the area of domestic violence.Methods
We mailed a survey to 189 ACOG Fellows who are members of the Collaborative Ambulatory Research Network. Questionnaires were also mailed to a random sample of 1250 nonmember Fellows.Results
Obstetrician-gynecologists are aware of the nature of domestic violence and are familiar with common symptomatology that may be associated with domestic violence. For pregnant patients, 39% of respondents routinely screen at the first prenatal visit; 27% of respondents routinely screen nonpregnant patients at the initial visit. Screening is most likely to occur when the obstetriciangynecologist suspects a patient is being abused, both during pregnancy (68%) and when the patient is not pregnant (72%). Only 30% of obstetrician-gynecologists received training on domestic violence during medical school; 37% received such instruction during residency training. The majority (67%) have received continuing education on the subject. Years since training and personal experiences with intimate-partner violence were associated with increased screening practices.Conclusion
Routine screening of all women for domestic violence has been recommended by ACOG for more than a decade. The majority of obstetrician-gynecologists screen both pregnant and nonpregnant patients when they suspect abuse. However, with universal screening, more female victims of violence can be identified and can receive needed services.