The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) now recommends that all women of childbearing age be screened to determine whether these patients are victims of intimate-partner violence (IPV), even if the women show no signs or symptoms of abuse.

Nearly 31% of women and 26% of men report experiencing some form of IPV in their lifetime, noted the statement, published online ahead of print by Annals of Internal Medicine. Writing on behalf of the USPSTF, Virginia A. Moyer, MD, MPH, also pointed out that these estimates likely are an under-representation due to under-reporting. Although all women are at potential risk for abuse, the USPSTF stated that young age, substance abuse, marital difficulties, and economic hardships elevate risk.

The task force identifies several IPV screening instruments. Those with the highest levels of sensitivity and specificity for identifying IPV are Hurt, Insult, Threaten, Scream (HITS); Ongoing Abuse Screen/Ongoing Violence Assessment Tool (OAS/OVAT); Slapped, Threatened, and Throw (STaT); Humiliation, Afraid, Rape, Kick (HARK); Modified Childhood Trauma Questionnaire–Short Form (CTQ-SF); and Woman Abuse Screen Tool (WAST). No evidence regarding appropriate intervals for screening was found.

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Women who screen positive for IPV should be provided with, or referred to, intervention services.