Hartford, CT - Today Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) released a report detailing its latest efforts to expand the number and type of healthcare providers being trained on and screening patients for intimate partner violence (IPV). CCADV also released a series of online training videos that will assist health professionals to build their understanding and capacity to support patients experiencing IPV.
CCADV provided 70 trainings to more than 1,000 healthcare providers in Connecticut through its Health Professional Outreach Project in fiscal year 2017 (July 1, 2016 thought June 30, 2017). Staff found that a large majority of health professionals were only screening patients for IPV when they observed signs of physical injuries. Training included discussing the various methods of control - emotional, psychological, technological, sexual, and physical - and the impact that all forms of abuse can take on a victim's health such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, increased risk for hypertension, etc. This both broadened health professionals' understanding of IPV and the importance of screening all patients regardless of the presence of physical injuries.
"We are pleased that we were able to solidify a number of partnerships with key health providers across the state and establish strong policy across medical practices," said Karen Jarmoc, CCADV chief executive officer. "These partnerships have increased the number of patients being screened and referred for services at CCADV's 18 domestic violence member organizations. Eliminating barriers to getting victims help is critical and this project continues to do just that."
Key partnerships in year two of the project included work with Women's Health Connecticut, The Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut (CHDI), and Planned Parenthood of Southern New England (PPSNE). CCADV provided 24 in-person trainings and two webinars to more than 125 providers within the Women's Health Connecticut network, which also created a practice-wide policy of screening patients for IPV and making referrals to the local domestic violence organization.
"We've felt strongly for a while that we needed a better way to help women who are facing these difficult situations. This training, and our partnership with CCADV, has greatly increased our ability to identify and refer women safely and we find that are patients are responding well to the screening." said Dr. Matthew Saidel, Chief Medical Officer and a practicing physician for Women's Health Connecticut.
Following a recommendation made during the first year of the project, CCADV staff worked to establish relationships with local colleges and universities that offer health profession degrees. Many professors noted that the student curriculum never mentions IPV, highlighting an important opportunity to educate future health professionals via the higher education system. CCADV provided training to 11 classes and more than 200 students. Post training surveys with college and university students revealed that:
Pre-training, only 59% of students identified victims as being at greater risk when leaving a relationship, versus 93% post-training (leaving is the most dangerous time for a victim)
Pre-training, only 47% of students believed that healthcare providers should not pressure victims to acknowledge IPV when they may not be ready to, compared to 76% post-training (best practices call for taking the victim's lead, allowing her or him to acknowledge and accept the circumstances in their own time, as they know their situation best).
"These training opportunities resulted in significant improvement in students' understanding of IPV and perceptions of how best to help patients when they identify IPV," said Jillian Gilchrest, Director of the Health Professional Outreach Project. "Working with students as they train to become future health professionals is essential to creating a sustainable culture of addressing IPV within healthcare practices."
In addition to conducting in-person trainings, CCADV will now make a series of online training videos targeted for health professionals available via www.ctcadv.org. Video topics include:
Why health professionals should screen for domestic violence
A toolbox for domestic violence screenings and referrals
Talking to Women: screening & referral for OBGYN health professionals
Impact of domestic violence on children
Talking to Caregivers: screening & referral for pediatric health professionals
Culturally-specific issues, mental health, and trauma
"Health professionals have limited time and these training videos will allow them to receive the content they need at their own pace and within their own timeframe," said Gilchrest.
As the Health Professional Outreach Project moves into year three, several next steps have been identified including:
Expand the number of healthcare entities that make screening for IPV a policy of their practice. We know that pregnant and parenting women are at higher risk for IPV, so ideally, all OBGYN and pediatric offices in Connecticut will incorporate the screen into their practice.
Develop a preventative screening tool for health professionals that can be utilized with adolescents and that aims to prevent individuals from perpetrating IPV. It is critical to define the underlying causes that prompt and perpetuate IPV and to implement strategies that impact those underlying causes.
Support the work of the Healthy Youth coalition, a group of advocacy organizations working to require comprehensive health education in grades K-12 in Connecticut, and continue to solidify relationships with and training opportunities at institutions of higher education.