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Letters
May 7, 2003

Intervening in Abusive Relationships

Author Affiliations
 

Letters Section Editor: Stephen J. Lurie, MD, PhD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2003;289(17):2211-2212. doi:10.1001/jama.289.17.2211-a

In Reply: We agree with Dr Finucane that the avoidance of harm should remain a primary goal of medical care in violence against women. This is precisely why there is a need for high-quality studies to determine which interventions actually are helpful for women who are experiencing violence or abuse in their lives.1,2 However, for women presenting to a primary care physician, the standard is not just research evidence, but the outcome of the clinical encounter itself. If women are not given the opportunity to disclose exposure to violence it may lead to misdiagnosis and a path of inappropriate investigations or treatments that do not address the underlying problem.3 Furthermore, studies find that both abused and nonabused women patients appreciate being asked about abuse.4 Qualitative studies find that abused patients may interpret a failure to ask (or acceptance of unconvincing excuses) as proof that the physician does not wish to discuss abuse.5 This failure has been associated with a significant decrease in patients' satisfaction with their physicians.6

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