Corporate Responsibility

The Hidden Cause of Chronic Health Conditions: Domestic Violence

A new national survey has found that domestic violence can have serious implications for women’s health. Women who experience domestic violence are significantly more likely to have chronic health conditions than women who do not experience such domestic violence. Yet healthcare professionals and the women themselves are not making this important health connection and three out of four women have never been screened in a medical exam for domestic violence. The link between domestic violence and chronic health conditions has significant implications, from healthcare costs to the quality of care for all of us.

DC Policy Briefing a Panel Discussion

The Importance of Healthcare Professionals Screening for Domestic Violence During Routine Exams.

On November 14th, the Verizon Foundation hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill in cooperation with the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues to discuss the connection between domestic violence and chronic health conditions.

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Exploring the Relationship Between Domestic Violence and Chronic Health Conditions

A survey of more than 1,000 American women found that 44% of women have experienced a form of domestic violence and that these women were 20% more likely to suffer from a chronic health condition than women who said they have never been abused. The survey, conducted by GfK Custom Research and commissioned by the Verizon Foundation, also indicates that many of the nation’s health practitioners are not screening for domestic violence during exams or making the connection between chronic health conditions and domestic violence.

The Path Forward for Patients

We cannot talk about improving chronic healthcare for women without addressing domestic violence.

Get the facts and advocate for domestic violence screenings:

The Path Forward for Healthcare Providers

The Value of Educating on Assessment and Intervention Strategies

Healthcare professionals are often “the first-line response” for many people who experience domestic violence. Doctors and nurses have a unique opportunity to address domestic violence by identifying victims and offering support and referrals to community agencies. Just as they would screen for disease and health conditions during physicals by asking if a patient smokes or drinks, healthcare professionals can learn identifiers for physical, emotional, sexual or economic abuse and ask patients more probing questions about their personal relationships and their partners.

In order to address the barriers to domestic violence screening, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, in conjunction with the New Brunswick – Community Health Promotion Program and the Domestic Violence Awareness Coalition, collaborated to provide a seminar entitled Domestic Violence and the Role of the Health Care Provider. The hope is this educational program for healthcare providers will be a model for other healthcare facilities on how to educate employees to identify, screen and to be resources to their patients.


The Path Forward Through Technology

SWHR Interdisciplinary Network

Verizon Foundation and the Society for Women’s Health Research have established a consortium with leaders from a range of disciplines to examine the chronic health consequences of domestic violence and how technology-based solutions can help address this issue.

The “Women’s Exposure to Violence and Chronic Disease Network” includes healthcare providers, domestic violence awareness advocates, and academic, government and healthcare technology leaders.

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