No, It's Not Just a Bruise: Physicians Examine Abuse

Physician Seminars Domestic Violence, Child Abuse and Elder Abuse

From 1996 through 1998, the Academy of Medicine of New Jersey, Princeton Junction, N.J., gave a series of seminars on domestic violence, child abuse and elder abuse for community-based physicians throughout New Jersey.

Violence and abuse among people in intimate social relationships, such as marriage and family, are now recognized as serious health problems in the United States. Although the privacy of the doctor-patient relationship places physicians in an advantageous position to intervene in cases of abuse, most physicians are not trained sufficiently to recognize its clinical symptoms.

As the academic affiliate of the Medical Society of New Jersey and an accredited provider of continuing medical education, the Academy of Medicine of New Jersey developed an initiative to better acquaint New Jersey physicians with the issues and different forms of abuse and to help them identify the clinical clues.

Physician faculty used a curriculum and slides on domestic abuse designed by Physicians for a Violence-Free Society (PVFS). Faculty developed and revised curricula for two other seminar programs-one on child abuse and the other on elder abuse.

The New Jersey State Bar Foundation and the New Jersey Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect provided supplemental materials on legal and community resources. Personnel from county domestic violence shelters, Child Protective Services, and Adult Protective Services distributed additional literature to participants.

Key Results:

  • Staff delivered some 45 seminars were delivered to requesting institutions throughout the state—16 on domestic violence, 9 on child abuse, and 20 on elder abuse.

    Seminars targeted physicians in settings or specialties most likely to see victims of abuse, such as emergency medicine, family practice, general medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics/gynecology.

    Of the 1,334 health care professionals who attended the seminars, approximately 552 attended those on domestic violence, 178 on child abuse, and 603 on elder abuse.

    Almost all of those who evaluated the seminars reported that they would be able to recognize the clinical clues associated with the type of abuse presented in the seminar they attended.

Afterward: The academy continues to offer seminars on each topic. These are publicized in their annual continuing education calendar, and are available for a fee of $600 each to requesting organizations. In addition, the academy continues to present seminars to annual meetings of medical professional societies and medical consortiums.