Injury Research Center

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Healthcare can change from within: a sustainable model for intimate partner violence prevention

Primary Investigator: Kevin Hamberger, PhD


Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a major cause of illness, injury, and death for women. Victims frequently seek healthcare from their primary care physicians. Physicians are trusted helpers, and the healthcare setting is ideal for providing secondary and primary IPV prevention services. However, healthcare settings often fail to communicate values supporting abuse victims, and healthcare providers frequently fail to address IPV as a health issue, identify IPV victims, or offer appropriate primary and secondary prevention services. Further, there is little empirical support for primary care physicians to screen for IPV, identify victims and provide prevention and intervention services. The primary question that is yet unanswered by the current state of knowledge of physician screening and provision of primary and secondary IPV prevention services is what impact the provision of these services has on the lives of women patients who receive them. For example, do women who receive such services feel safer? Do they experience less violence? Do they have better knowledge of community services designed to help them, and do they access these services? Do they experience better health status and fewer medical and psychological symptoms? The Healthcare Can Change From Within model has been developed and implemented with grant support from the Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program (HWPP) to accomplish change within the healthcare system that leads to more integrated, institutionalized, and appropriate provision of routine, primary and secondary prevention services to end IPV in the lives of women patients.

The primary objective of the proposed study is to provide a rigorous evaluation of the Healthcare Can Change From Within model. Specific aims include:

1) to evaluate patients identified as IPV victims to determine changes in violence and abuse, feelings of safety and community support, and access to relevant community services. The study will also evaluate long-term changes in quality of life and health status.

2) to compare the long-term outcomes described above for women identified and cared for in two primary care clinics that have adopted the Healthcare Can Change From Within model with women from two primary care clinics serving demographically similar patients that have not adopted the model but provide what we will hereafter call usual care.

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