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Chiropractic Research Review

Chiropractors' Perceptions of Domestic Violence

A 1999 study published in JAMA found that only 10 percent of primary care physicians routinely screen for intimate partner violence (IPV) during new patient visits and only 9 percent routinely screen during periodic checkups.

In a study aimed at evaluating chiropractors' perceptions on domestic violence, researchers distributed a survey at a three-day chiropractic seminar in Minneapolis in February 2005. The survey contained 54 items that included three demographic questions and three questions for DCs to estimate their percentage of female patients, percent of female patients post-injury, and percent of patients suspected as victims of IPV. The remainder of the survey consisted of multiple-choice and true/false questions.

A total of 93 surveys were completed and used in the study, with a respondent age range of 21 to 60 years old. Seventy-seven percent of the participants reported that between 51 and 75 percent of their patients were female, with only 5.2 percent of their female clients being victims of IPV. The survey concluded that:

* 65 percent of respondents were correct in identifying emotional abuse as the most common form of IPV;
* money, children, and fear were the most common reasons correctly identified by 75 percent of respondents for women to stay in an abusive relationship;
* 77 percent correctly identified that batterers crossed all socioeconomic and race lines;
* 62 percent of respondents correctly reported that victim characteristics were not predictors of abuse;
* 22 percent of respondents correctly identified the head and neck region as the most commonly injured area;
* 13 percent of respondents correctly identified that musculoskeletal injuries account for approximately 30 percent of all IPV physical injuries;
* Fifty-four percent of respondents overestimated that musculoskeletal injuries account for 40 percent or more of IPV-related injuries;
* more than 70 percent of respondents correctly reported that they would offer support and discuss a safety plan;
* 26 percent of respondents reported they were comfortable or very comfortable asking a woman if she suffered from IPV.

Compared to primary care physicians, chiropractors were as likely to underestimate the occurrence of IPV among their female patients. They were predominately aware of the common types of abuse, but not the most frequent physical injuries that occurred as a result. The authors suggest that physicians and chiropractors alike must begin to routinely screen for instances of IPV. Additional education, skill training and resource familiarity may help them address these issues.

To learn more about intimate partner violence, visit www.cdc.gov/ncipc/factsheets/ipvfacts.htm and www.endabuse.org/resources/facts/HealthCare.pdf.

Shearer H, Forte M, Dosanjh S, et al. Chiropractor's perceptions about intimate partner violence: a cross-sectional survey. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2006;29(5):386-392.

Chiropractic Research Review

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