Intended for healthcare professionals


Intimate partner violence

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 11 March 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:595

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. Lorraine E Ferris, associate professor (
  1. Department of Public Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 1A8

    Doctors should offer referral to existing interventions, while better evidence is awaited

    Intimate partner violence is a major public health and human rights issue. The statistics on its physical, sexual, reproductive, emotional, and financial consequences are alarming. Although men may be abused, women are overwhelmingly the victims of intimate partner violence. Shortly we will have reliable estimates of its international prevalence, determinants, and consequences when the World Health Organization reports on its multi-country study on women's health and domestic violence against women.1 However, as Taft et al remind us in this issue (p 618), intimate partner violence affects entire families, including children, making the statistics even more shocking.2 We need effective interventions to promote the necessary individual and societal changes to tackle current cases of intimate partner violence and to prevent new ones. Unfortunately, there are only a few examples of rigorous evaluations of interventions, and this paucity holds for both developed and developing countries. Without knowledge about whether interventions against intimate partner violence do more good than harm, what should doctors do about offering referrals for confirmed or likely intimate partner violence?

    Many of those who are struggling with this question have asked the important …

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