Screening for and counseling women exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV) is part of the free preventive services covered within the U.S. Affordable Care Act, but changes in the healthcare delivery system are needed to achieve this across diverse clinical settings and to improve health outcomes. This issue was the focal point of 2013 Intimate Partner Violence Screening and Counseling Research Symposium hosted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health. This symposium brought together researchers, medical practitioners, federal agency staff, and other stakeholders to identify gaps in research on screening and counseling for IPV in primary health care settings.
The meeting identified priorities for future research which include a novel systems approach to implementing IPV screening and counseling, and a special focus on interventions for substance-using women which are presented in two articles that are part of a special section on IPV published in Journal of Women's Health, a peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The articles are available free on the Journal of Women's Health website.
In the article "Integrating Intimate Partner Violence Assessment and Intervention into Healthcare in the United States: A Systems Approach", Elizabeth Miller, MD, PhD, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Brigid McCaw, MD, MPH, Kaiser Permanente, Betsy Humphreys, MLS, National Library of Medicine, and Connie Mitchell, MD, MPH, California Department of Public Health, describe a systems approach that combines health and advocacy services to support the identification and transition to care for women exposed to IPV. The approach benefits from the use of electronic health records and partnerships with various service and advocacy providers.
The article "Identifying and Intervening with Substance-Using Women Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence: Phenomenology, Comorbidities, and Integrated Approaches within Primary Care and Other Agency Settings" focuses on women suffering from substance-use and substance disorders who are exposed to IPV and HIV. Terri Weaver, PhD, Saint Louis University, Louisa Gilbert, PhD and Nabila El-Bassel, PhD, Columbia University School of Social Work, Heidi Resnick, PhD, Medical University of South Carolina, and Samia Noursi, PhD, National Institute on Drug Abuse, U.S. National Institutes of Health, discuss the mental health and physical illnesses that may often co-occur in these individuals, and the difficulties they present for screening and intervention efforts. They also offer recommendations to fill the gaps identified in the existing research.
"We are very pleased to publish this special section in the Journal focusing on intimate partner violence, and we are grateful to our Guest Editors Dr. Noursi and Lisa Begg, DrPH from the National Institutes of Health," says Susan G. Kornstein, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Women's Health, Executive Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women's Health, Richmond, VA, and President of the Academy of Women's Health.