General Recommendations

Intimate partner violence can be a sensitive issue, and it may be difficult for physicians to inquire about IPV and for patients to disclose it. Physicians should use direct and nonjudgmental language, conduct the interview in private, maintain confidentiality, and when needed, use professional interpreters who do not know the patient (FVPF, 2004). However, confidentiality may not be absolute, because threats of violence and suicide risk must be disclosed to reporting authorities or others. Effective interventions are often based on empowerment of the abused person, allowing her to define her own goals, explore her own solutions, and arrive at her own understanding of the situation (Ramsay et al., 2009). An analysis of provider-patient communications in emergency departments demonstrated that disclosure of IPV is facilitated by open-ended questions, responding to psychosocial cues, and asking at least one follow-up question (Rhodes et al., 2007). However, disclosure of IPV is not the only goal of inquiry. Well-conducted interviews may help a victim, even if she does not disclose the abuse (Rhodes and Levinson, 2003).

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