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June 14, 1995

Physicians and Domestic ViolenceCan We Make a Difference?

JAMA. 1995;273(22):1790-1791. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520460072039

During the past 4 years, the American Medical Association (AMA) has made diagnosis and prevention of family violence one of its top public health priorities. The AMA's definition of family violence includes child physical abuse, child sexual abuse, domestic violence or spousal abuse, and elder abuse as the four components—together a major public health problem. While previous AMA policies have sought to deter aspects of family violence, no concerted effort was made until a presentation at the AMA National Leadership Conference by the Board of Trustees in 1991. The overwhelming effect of that presentation led to a survey on the extent of domestic violence and the proper way to control it.1 Among the findings:

  • Three fourths of all Americans see violence as a very serious problem, and 40% believe family violence is a very serious problem in this country.

  • More than 85% of Americans felt they could tell a

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