Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Academic Medicine








Purpose. To assess the feelings of physicians about assisting female victims of intimate-partner violence (IPV), and to examine factors related to positive and negative feelings about assisting victims of IPV.

Method. In 1998, a total site sample of 150 physicians practicing in a large general hospital in the area of Virginia Beach, Virginia, was surveyed by questionnaire via the mail. Four specialties were represented: emergency medicine, family practice, obstetrics-gynecology, and psychiatry. The questionnaire asked about medical training and training in assisting victims of IPV The physicians' feelings about working with victims of IPV were measured on a nine-item, five-point semantic differential scale.

Results. A total of 76 physicians responded to the questionnaire (response rate=51%). Only a minority (11%) had overall positive feeling scores about assisting victims of IPV While most physicians reported that it was "significant work," the great majority also felt that it was difficult, low-paying, and stressful. Training in assisting victims of IPV, in medical school or afterwards, did not appear to influence feelings about assisting victims of IPV However, physicians who were white and who were married (the majority of the respondents) were significantly more likely than the other respondents to feel negatively about providing services to victims of IPV.

Conclusion. Graduate medical education and training programs need to address the association of negative feelings with helping women harmed by IPV, because these feelings may interfere with the appropriate screening, referral, and treatment of these victims.


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© 2002 Association of American Medical Colleges.

Original Publication Citation

Garimella, R. N., Plichta, S. B., Houseman, C., & Garzon, L. (2002). How physicians feel about assisting female victims of intimate-partner violence. Academic Medicine, 77(12), 1262-1265. doi:10.1097/00001888-200212000-00024