Domestic violence is poorly covered in medical training, study finds

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: (Published 11 October 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j4646
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. The BMJ

Education in UK medical schools about domestic violence and abuse is inadequate, a study by researchers from Bristol Medical School has concluded.1

Formal teaching

The researchers sent an online survey to all 34 UK medical schools and received responses from 25 (74%). All the schools that responded said that they though that the medical curriculum should include formal teaching on domestic violence and abuse.


Most (21) of the medical schools that responded said that they delivered some formal education on domestic violence and abuse, while the remaining four said they provided none. Nineteen of the 21 described their education as mandatory.


The amount of teaching on domestic violence varied. Eleven schools said it equated to less than two contact hours over the five year course, seven said it was 3-5 contact hours, and one school said it offered 6-10 contact hours, but only to a few students.


Three quarters (15) of the 21 medical schools that provided domestic violence education said that they thought it “inadequate” or “not quite enough.” Only three thought that the amount of teaching they offered was “about right.” Of the 21 respondents, nine said that they believed that the methods used to prepare future doctors to identify and respond to domestic violence and abuse “could be done better.”

Future impact

Lucy Potter, the study’s lead author, said, “When considering the profound impact on health and wellbeing [of domestic violence and abuse] it is imperative that the future generation of doctors are equipped with sufficient training to be able to recognise the signs in patients and manage or refer them through the appropriate channels.”


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