Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Nursing Best Practice Guidelines

Revision Background

The World Health Organization [WHO] (2008) continues to recognize as part of Primary Health Care, that screening for abuse in all health care settings is instrumental in identifying and raising awareness of this public health problem. Within all health care settings nurses and other health professionals are in a privileged position to assist women experiencing intimate partner violence.

There continues to be epidemiological data that indicate the incidence of woman abuse is still a presence within our communities. There are economic, health, and social costs to women (and their families) experiencing intimate partner violence which in turn have a profound effect on the quality of life for women and the community as a whole.
While the term “woman abuse” has been used, the woman experiencing “intimate partner violence (IPV)” is the primary focus of this guideline, in terms of screening, identification and initial response.
Since the publication of the original guideline, research has indicated that asking questions about abuse in the lives of women continues to be a step in the process of addressing woman abuse. Recent studies by MacMillan and colleagues (2006), Rhodes and colleagues (2006), Kataoka, Yaju, Eto, & Horiuchi (2010) and Koziol-McLain and colleagues (2010) indicate that screening approaches like routine universal screening should be standard practice for nurses and other health care practitioners in all health care settings.