The study’s lead author, Megan Gerber, a practicing physician at Cambridge Health Alliance and instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, notes: “Our study hopes to raise physician awareness of how common domestic violence is in practice, especially among women who exhibit adverse health behaviors. Physicians regularly screen for tobacco and alcohol use in their practices, however routine assessment for domestic violence has been much more controversial, and many clinicians do not regularly ask their patients about it.”
Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a major public health problem in the United States and victims are commonly encountered in medical settings. Many barriers exist to clinician-initiated screening for IPV. However, smoking and problem drinking are conditions that clinicians commonly screen for and both have been strongly associated with IPV in prior studies. By estimating the predicted probability of 12-month and lifetime IPV for a given patient based on whether she presents with these conditions, this study gives clinicians information that can help them identify patients at risk for IPV.