Women of child-bearing age may soon find their primary care clinician asking new sets of questions designed to screen for signs of intimate partner violence after a new series of recommendations from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force.

The recommendations are a departure from previous assessments by the group, who in 2004 had found insufficient evidence to support such screenings.

So why the change of course now?

In making their recommendation, the task force cited new evidence demonstrating a “low risk, moderate benefit” to health providers screening their patients for intimate partner violence, a term that includes physical violence, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, stalking and reproductive coercion.  They also pointed to effective and easy-to-use screening tools available to physicians.  The ultimate goal is to help more women reach the interventions needed to extricate themselves from the cycle of abuse.

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