Recent Study Does Not Support Screening for Intimate Partner Violence: Health
Care Workers Require Education to Recognize Signs of Abuse

TORONTO, Nov. 25 /CNW/ - Improving Women's Health in Ontario, an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term-Care recognized the first day of the 2009 White Ribbon Campaign by stressing the importance of better education for health care workers in identifying and addressing intimate partner violence.

Echo CEO Pat Campbell said, "Health care workers are often the first to identify that there's a problem. They are our best chance for connecting with these women and potentially ending the cycle of violence. We need to make sure that when they're talking to a woman and they suspect she might be in crisis, they have the knowledge and the tools they need to act."

A recent study funded by Echo and led by Harriet MacMillan, a professor at McMaster University, looked at the potential benefits of universal screening in health-care settings for intimate partner violence. The study, which was published in the August 5, 2009 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, concluded that universal screening does not result in significant reductions in subsequent violence or improvement in other important outcomes, and that evaluation of services available for women after they are identified as experiencing violence, should be the priority. The authors also emphasize the importance of health care providers being aware of the signs and symptoms of violence exposure, and needing better education and preparation to understand and identify abuse.

"We need to dedicate our resources to the things that we know work," said Campbell. "This study shows us that screening every woman who comes into a doctor's office or emergency room is not the best use of resources. What does work is helping that nurse or that family doctor or even that orthopaedic surgeon better recognize the signs of intimate partner violence when they see it, know what questions to ask when they're concerned and feel confident that they can support a woman in finding the help she needs."

The White Ribbon Campaign concludes on December 6, 2009, Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women and the 20th anniversary of the shooting at Montreal's École Polytechnique that claimed the lives of 14 young women.

About Echo - Echo's mandate is to be the focal point and catalyst for women's health at the provincial level. Echo promotes equity and improved health for women by working in collaborative partnerships with the health system, communities, researchers and policy-makers.

SOURCE ECHO

For further information: For further information: Julie McFayden, Public Affairs and Community Engagement Officer, (416) 597-9687 ext. 232, jmcfayden@echo-ontario.ca or John Ecker, Director, Public Affairs and Community Engagement, (416) 597-9687 ext. 223, jecker@echo-ontario.ca

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