Routinely screen women for domestic violence, says U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

This week the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released a recommendation to routinely screen for abuse all women of childbearing age –whether or not there exist outward signs of trauma– and to refer women who report violence to appropriate services. The recommendation was published in an online edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The decision to endorse routine screening is an important step toward improving the early identification of abuse and minimizing the long-term physical and psychological impact of domestic violence. 

The effects of domestic violence are vast and can be long-lasting –whether it is physical, sexual or emotional. Domestic violence is frequently coupled with substance abuse, impaired interpersonal and occupational functioning, and mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder. It can also lead to the development of chronic pain, neurological disorders, pelvic inflammatory disease and gastrointestinal disorders, among other physical effects. Consequently, health care costs can be as much as 42 percent higher than for non-abused women, and physically-abused women use more emergency department, hospital outpatient, primary care, pharmacy and specialty services.*

Polaris offers an efficient and effective strength-based solution for domestic violence screening, referral and service planning for the medical and public sectors. With the Polaris Web-based system, providers can assess for the mental impact of abuse, determine and monitor an appropriate treatment plan and document the high-risk attitudes, behaviors and long-term relational schema for revictimization. Real-time reports allow providers to take immediate action in setting victims on the road to recovery. 

Equally as important, Polaris DV includes a comprehensive training platform to prepare medical staff for the complex presentations of domestic violence, and to assist them in developing ways to practically work discussions of abuse with patients into the clinical workflow.

The system was developed with funding from the National Institutes of Health, and has been scientifically validated. Send an e-mail to or click here to learn more.

*Bonomi AE, Anderson ML, Rivara FP, Thompson RS. (2009) “Health care utilization and costs associated with physical and nonphysical-only intimate partner violence,” Health Services Research, 44(3): 1052-67.