Would I know one if I fell over one?

I am talking about an ‘abridged Cochrane systematic review with meta-analysis’. And honestly I don’t think I would. Thankfully, the research paper in the BMJ from a range of experts (O’Doherty, Taft, Hegarty, Ramsay, Davidson and Feder) is clear and well explained.

The paper analyses several studies which assess the impact of screening women for intimate partner violence in healthcare settings. It even includes a brief video (blogging skills don’t permit me to embed it here…) setting out the main findings. The researchers found that while screening results in higher identification of domestic abuse, it was still well below the prevalence estimates in the population. Further it did not clearly lead to higher referrals to specialist domestic abuse services. Screening did not appear to cause harm.

In short, my view would be in a far less scientific way, that asking the question routinely to every woman in a health care setting without having a clear and effective referral pathway does not make a material difference to the support she receives and is not a good use of resource. In a more measured way, the researchers concluded: ‘As the primary studies did not detect improved outcomes for women screened for intimate partner violence, there is insufficient evidence for screening in healthcare settings.’

But, if you have a dedicated DV practitioner either on site or clearly identified and linked to the practice/hospital, then that makes all the difference…

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