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CAADA eNews - July/August 2013

 

1 in 6 women arriving at fracture clinics are recent victims of domestic abuse,

international study shows

One in six women attending orthopaedic fracture clinics have experienced physical, emotional or sexual violence from a partner or ex-partner within the last year, an international study has found. Entitled Prevalence of abuse and intimate partner violence surgical evaluation (PRAISE) in orthopaedic fracture clinics', the research is believed to be the largest multinational study of its kind to date and was led by a team of 80 investigators, based across 12 orthopaedic fracture clinics in Canada, the US, the Netherlands, Denmark and India. A further 1 in 3 of the 2945 female participants reported having experienced abuse at some point in their lives.

Participants in the study were invited to anonymously answer direct questions about any abuse they may have experienced, which was followed up with two existing questionnaires: the Women Abuse Screening Tool (WAST) and Partner Violence Screen (PVS). While 1 in 50 (2%) of the women questioned were found to have visited the orthopaedic fracture clinic as a direct result of the abuse, only 14% of this group said they had ever been asked about the abuse by a health care professional.

The study's findings have been published in Online First by medical journal, The Lancet. PRAISE suggests that [h]ealth-care professionals in injury clinics are well positioned to identify patients experiencing IPV, since they often develop long-term interactions with women during repeat clinic visits for follow-up of fractures and associated surgical procedures.'

This conclusion echoes early findings from CAADA's Themis project, which is evaluating the impact of co-locating IDVAs in hospitals. The research shows that 45% of hospital IDVA clients reported previous attendances at A&E, compared to just 14% of IDVA clients supported elsewhere. Themis also found that, compared to 73% of non-hospital IDVA clients, only 59% of those accessing help through hospital-based services had reported their abuse to the police. Taken together, statistics such as these emphasise the unique opportunity health services present to identify victims hidden from other agencies.

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