Screening for Interpersonal and Domestic Violence

Clinical Recommendations

The Women’s Preventive Services Initiative recommends screening adolescents and women for interpersonal and domestic violence, at least annually, and, when needed, providing or referring for initial intervention services. Interpersonal and domestic violence includes physical violence, sexual violence, stalking and psychological aggression (including coercion), reproductive coercion, neglect, and the threat of violence, abuse, or both. Intervention services include, but are not limited to, counseling, education, harm reduction strategies, and referral to appropriate supportive services.

Implementation Considerations

The Women’s Preventive Services Initiative recommends as a preventive service, screening adolescents and women for interpersonal and domestic violence. Factors associated with increased risk include, but are not limited to, pregnancy; younger and older age; increased stress; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (or questioning) status; dependency; drug and alcohol misuse; former or current military service; and living in an institutional setting. There are multiple screening tools that have shown adequate sensitivity and specificity for identifying intimate partner violence and domestic violence in specific populations of women. Minimum screening intervals are unknown; however, based on the prevalence of interpersonal and domestic violence as well as evidence demonstrating that many cases are not reported, it is reasonable to conduct screening at least annually although the frequency and intensity of screening may vary depending on a particular patient’s situation.

*These are the recommendations of the WPSI and not necessarily of any individual participating organization.