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Routine domestic violence screenings may reduce abuse, save lives

Maryland advocates for the prevention of domestic violence may be glad to know that a new analysis on domestic violence reveals that routine screening for domestic violence in women could reduce cases of abuse and injuries. A review is being conducted by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force that has already indicated that routine screening for domestic violence could prevent future abuse.

Further review will determine whether the 2004 USPSTF guidelines need to be updated, which currently state that evidence is insufficient to recommend routine screenings to doctors. The current review was posted on May 7 in a publication titled Annals of Internal Medicine.

This review is said to be stronger in its examination of previous studies, including those conducted to implement the 2004 set of guidelines. The current review also looks at the dynamics of domestic violence screening, including treatments, effectiveness of methods and other areas. The USPSTF guidelines are not mandates but rather recommendation, which are known for being strongly standardized by insurance providers. The USPSTF already has the support of the Institute of Medicine -- a group that supports routine domestic violence screening.

Skeptics of routine screening are concerned that an abuser will discover that the victim has sought help and could become more aggressive or violent. Even in the face of this skepticism, there is still a recognizable opportunity to provide help and support for sufferers of domestic violence. One study indicated that out of more than 1,000 pregnant women in the study, those who were experiencing abuse and who received counseling during and after pregnancy experienced less domestic violence and had healthier babies. This may be a positive indication that such screening and helpful measures may reduce violence.

Every state, including Maryland offers programs for domestic violence sufferers and their families. Along with these organizations, the legal system can often provide support and protection when needed, including issuance of an order for protection.

Source: US News and World Report, "Screening Women for Domestic Violence Could Help Prevent Abuse," Carina Storrs, May 8, 2012

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