Jul 19, 2011
CONTACT Susan Lamontagne
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Institute of Medicine Recommends Intimate Partner Violence Screening as Part of Basic Preventive Care

Washington, DC – Advocates of victims of domestic violence scored a major policy victory when the Institute of Medicine recognized the health benefits of assessing for current and past violence and abuse as part of basic preventive health care in a report to be released later today.

“With nearly one quarter of women experiencing violence or abuse at some point in their lifetimes and millions of children affected, the prevalence data clearly argues for this population to receive early assessment and counseling,” said Lisa James, Director of the National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence at Futures Without Violence, formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund.

Victims of domestic violence are at increased risk for heart disease, stroke and chronic pain. Abused women and girls are at significantly higher risk for unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and poor pregnancy outcomes. Children who witness family violence are more likely to experience depression, substance abuse, obesity and asthma.
Today’s announcement is a significant step to ensuring that our health care system and providers will be partners in identifying and helping victims of violence.

“We are thrilled at the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation, which will undoubtedly help to improve the health and lives of abused women,” said Esta Soler, Founder and President, Futures Without Violence. “We also want to thank Senator Mikulski and Representatives Schakowsky and Slaughter for their leadership that has led to this day.”

U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) introduced the Women’s Health amendment to the Affordable Care Act that gave HHS the authority to study what should be covered; HHS turned to the Institute of Medicine for recommendations on which HHS is expected to make a final determination in August; Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL) organized a letter from advocates and colleagues urging the IOM to make a positive recommendation regarding intimate partner violence screening; Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) is the lead sponsor of H.R. 1578, Violence Against Women Health Initiative Act of 2011, modeled after the health programs in the Violence Against Women Act of 2005 that provides training for health care providers on how to identify and treat victims of domestic violence and intimate partner violence.

“Today’s recommendation is a great day for women,” said James. “This will encourage health care providers to identify women in abusive relationships and get them the care they desperately need.”

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