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Screening for Intimate Partner Violence

"I think we all want to be asked, even if we deny being abused. There is not a right time. But if you ask, even if I deny it, I know I can go back to you and get help if I need it."[8]

Systematic reviews of screening for intimate partner violence have found insufficient evidence to make a recommendation as to whether screening is appropriate.[2] However, asking about intimate partner violence is not associated with any harm to the woman, and may validate her experiences, increase her self-esteem and reduce her feeling of isolation.[2] While the nature of the physician-patient relationship and the manner in which questions are asked may be more important to women than the questions themselves, screening tools for intimate partner violence exist.[2] Two examples are provided below.


S - How would you describe your Spousal relationship?

A - What happens when you and your partner Argue?

F - Do Fights result in you being hit, shoved, or hurt?

E - Do you have an Emergency plan?[5]



2. Cherniack, D, Grant, L, Mason, R, Moore, B, Pellizarri, R. Intimate partner violence consensus statement. JOGC 2005;27:365-88.

5. Abuse in pregnancy: information and strategies for the prenatal educator. In: Ontario’s maternal, newborn and early childhood development resource centre, Toronto, Ministry of Ontario; 2002. p. 6.

8. Campbell, JC, Pugh, LC, Campbell, D, Visscher, M. The influence of abuse on pregnancy intention. Women’s Health Issues 1995;5:214-223.

All references for this section