Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Nursing Best Practice Guidelines

Type of Abuse Screening

Screening: The development panel determined by consensus that in the case of screening for woman abuse, screening means imbedding questions about abuse in a health history or incorporating validated screening instruments into the history/assessment process.

  • Universal screening refers to the characteristics of the group to be screened and occurs when nurses ask every woman over a specified age about her experience of abuse.
  • Routine screening refers to the frequency with which screening is carried out. Routine screening is performed on a regular basis regardless of whether or not signs of abuse are present.
  • Indicator-based screening refers to screening whereby nurses observe one or more indicators that suggest a woman may have been abused and subsequently question her about the indicator(s). The most comprehensive approach is one that combines routine and universal screening. This approach is recommended throughout this best practice guideline.