Research News

Domestic violence is common among women in fracture clinics

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f3847 (Published 18 June 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3847

Women attending fracture clinics report a high prevalence of domestic violence. In the latest survey from clinics on three continents, one in six women had experienced domestic violence in the past year (16.0% (455/2839), 95% CI 14.7% to 17.4%) and one in three had experienced physical, emotional, or sexual abuse in their lifetime (34.6%, 32.8% to 36.5%). One in 50 of the women screened had injuries caused by their intimate partner. Researchers surveyed women attending clinics in Canada, the US, the Netherlands, Denmark, and India. The overall response rate was 85%.

Violence by intimate partners is the single leading cause of non-fatal injury to women worldwide, they write. Health professionals in fracture clinics, including orthopaedic surgeons, are well placed to identify the problem and refer affected women to services that provide help and support. Some international guidelines already recommend screening in this setting, but action is lagging behind the evidence. In this study, only seven of the 49 women injured by their partners had ever been asked about domestic violence by a health professional (14%). Fracture clinics should seriously consider developing and testing programmes to identify and refer women experiencing violence from intimate partners, say the researchers. Three quarters of the women surveyed agreed with screening by health professionals.

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Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3847