Family medicine physicians feel underprepared to serve patients whom they know are perpetrators of intimate partner violence (IPV), particularly if they also provide care to the victim, according to a study in the Journal of American Board of Family Medicine co-authored by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher.
IPV is a serious, preventable public health problem that affects millions of Americans. The term “intimate partner violence” describes physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. It can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy.
Researchers from BUSPH, Boston University School of Medicine, and Boston Medical Center conducted a qualitative study that involved interviewing primary care physicians (from the Department of Family Medicine) who reported experiences with male patients known to have perpetrated IPV.
The majority of the physicians in the study reported learning that their male patients were perpetrating intimate partner violence because the female victim, who was also their patient, disclosed the abuse, although a number of physicians reported that the men disclosed their own behavior in order to get help. These physicians described feeling unprepared to intervene when male perpetrators of IPV requested help in addressing their abusive behavior.
Dr. Emily Rothman, associate professor of community health sciences at BUSPH, was a co-author on the study.