According to a recent study, the answer is “No.”
Screening for domestic violence followed by referral to a clinician does not reduce the recurrence of violence among women, according to a study for the the McMaster Violence Against Women Research Group, published in the August 5, 2009, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. (Full text here.) In the published editorial on the study, the authors have this to say:
[This study] should dispel any illusions that universal screening with passive referrals to community services is an adequate response to violence in intimate relationships.
The findings are not overly surprising to me…. And it reminds me of how that “Are you safe at home?” questions is addressed whenever I visit doctors offices, the emergency room, walk-in clinics etc. The question in terms of words varies only slightly (from “Are you safe” to “Do you feel safe” to “How would you rate your sense of safety at home?” etc.), but the manner and tone in which it’s asked varies quite a bit.
For some, it’s such a routine question, it seems as if your answer isn’t even going to register. Others try to toss it in with the litany of other questions, like a sneaky curve ball, hoping you’ll be caught off guard and give away the truth you might otherwise resist. Still others seem embarrassed to ask it — but they are fine with my “dignity” hanging out the back of a paper gown.
I wonder if there have been any studies on how effective the actual questioning aka screening itself is.