Nurses should note the possibility of patients presenting with bone fractures having suffered violence at the hands of a partner, research has suggested.
It found that one in six women attending orthopaedic fracture clinics had been victims of physical, emotional, or sexual violence inflicted by their partner during the previous 12 months.
One in 50 attends as a direct result of intimate partner violence (IPV), it found. Yet only 14% of this group were questioned about the cause of their injuries by a healthcare professional, according to the Canadian study published in The Lancet Online First.
The PRAISE (Prevalence of Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence Surgical Evaluation) research - the largest multinational study of its kind - was co-led by Sheila Sprague and Mohit Bhandari from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
Dr Sprague said: “The unexpectedly high rate of IPV in orthopaedics suggests that injury clinics are the ideal location for identification and support programmes for victims of severe abuse who may be at increased risk of further injury and homicide.
“Almost three-quarters of the women in our study believed that healthcare providers should ask all women about IPV, and about two-thirds agreed that orthopaedic surgeons are particularly well placed to do this.”
Globally, IPV is the leading cause of non-fatal injury to women. Musculoskeletal injuries are the second most common type of injury resulting from IPV and are often seen by orthopaedic surgeons.
The PRAISE study examined the yearly and lifetime prevalence of IPV among 2,945 adult women presenting to 12 fracture clinics in Canada (six sites), the United States (two sites), the Netherlands (two sites), Denmark (one site) and India (three sites).
One in six (16%) disclosed experiencing IPV in the past year, while 34.6% reported experiencing abuse at some point during their lives.
Significantly, of the 47 women who attended their fracture clinic as a direct result of IPV, only 14% said they had ever been asked about abuse by a healthcare professional.
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