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Just Ask: Healthcare Provider Screening for Intimate Partner Violence and Human Trafficking Victims in Southern California


At least one in four U.S. women experiences intimate partner violence (IPV) in her lifetime regardless of personal demographic factors. Every year, 5.3 million IPV victimizations occur among women aged 18 and older, many which require medical attention. Additionally, the U.S. is a main source, destination, and transportation hub for individuals forced into human trafficking, especially women and girls. Healthcare providers could be critical in the process of screening and identifying IPV and human trafficking victims, but they may experience personal and institutionalized barriers that prevent them from doing so. A cross-sectional study was conducted on a convenience sample of healthcare providers in California (n = 148), which assessed whether healthcare providers' demographics, training, knowledge, patient characteristics, and practice setting were associated with frequency of screening, quality of screening question, and identifying victims. Findings indicate that healthcare provider characteristics are not predictive of how often a provider screens for IPV or how many women are identified as victims; however, serving low-income patients and receiving recent training are. Lastly, the specificity and depth of a screening question is unimportant; simply asking any "screening" question may open conversations in ways that enable intervention for IPV victims.

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