Abstract No. 2065 (Symposium) : PREVALENCE AND BARRIERS TO DISCLOSURE OF PARTNER ABUSE IN GENERAL PRACTICE

Conference: 
Author(s): 
Hegarty Kelsey, Bush Robert, Sheehan Mary Social and Preventative Medicine Department, University of Queensland, Diamantina House, 4th floor, P.A.H., Ipswich Rd., Woolloongabba, Qld., 4072, Australia
Text: 
Introduction:
There is limited data available about the detailed prevalence of physical, emotional and sexual abuse of partners, in women who attend general practitioners. Similarly, there is no available quantitative data on barriers to disclosure and identification of partner abuse in general practice.
Methods: Female patients attending twenty, randomly chosen, Brisbane general practices, were screened using a self report questionnaire (the Composite Abuse Scale) for a history of partner abuse. Abused women were asked about their experiences during consultations with general practitioners, which included barriers and facilitating factors to disclosure of that abuse.
Results: The survey (n=1836, response rate 78.5%) showed one in three women in current relationships had ever experienced partner abuse (emotional or physical or sexual), one in five had experienced physical abuse and one in ten all three forms of abuse. Detailed twelve month prevalences will also be outlined showing the type, frequency and severity of partner abuse. Abused women were more likely to be younger, separated or divorced, to have experienced child abuse and to come from violent families. Lifetime disclosure rate of abuse to general practitioners was 36.7% and inquiry rate of doctors was 13.2%. Women were significantly more likely to disclose if they had been asked about abuse by their doctor. The four main barriers to disclosure were that women see the abuse as their own problem, that it was not serious enough, that they preferred to deal with it themselves and they perceived the doctor might not be able to help.
Conclusion:
Prevalence of partner abuse (including severe combined abuse) in Australian general practices is common and disclosure and identification of that abuse is infrequent.