Domestic violence presenting in general practice

Domestic violence presenting in general practice

Domestic violence is certainly in the news of late, for all the wrong reasons. Courtesy of a number of recent tragedies, awareness of the prevalence of intimate partner violence is increasing, as well as awareness of the many forms this violence can take and the awful consequences that can occur if the situation is not addressed.

A recent Healthed survey of over 800 GPs from around the country, confirms that primary care is one possible avenue where cases of domestic violence can be identified and help offered.

According to the survey, more than 70% of GPs had at least one patient in the previous 12 months whose partner had done something that made them feel afraid. And more than half of the surveyed GPs were aware of at least one patient who had been physically abused, having been slapped or kicked. More commonly GPs were aware of partner violence that manifested as controlling behaviour, often through financial control with almost 70% reporting knowing at least one patient experiencing this type of abuse in the past year.

In what may be seen as a sign of times, a number of GPs also reported, in the previous 12 months having had one or more patients complain their partner logged on to their device without permission (27%) and even having been monitored by their partner via tracking software (30%).

It is all a little frightening, especially when one considers these are the cases the GPs are aware of, and there is a wealth of evidence that suggests much domestic violence remains hidden.

And while one might expect this could represent a golden opportunity for intervention, the survey also highlighted how GPs might be hampered in providing this intervention by a lack of training. Over half of all the GPs surveyed reported that, in their entire careers, they had received two hours or less in education about managing family violence.

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