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Unlike other diseases and social disorders, domestic violence--also known as intimate partner violence (IPV)--requires a victim before preventive actions can be taken.
Diagnosis of IPV is challenging because the clinical characteristics of its victims--bruises, broken bones--can have many causes. Physicians must rely on reporting by the victims themselves, who are often unwilling or unable to report the cause of their injuries.
As facial specialists, dentists in general and oral surgeons in particular are uniquely positioned to intervene in cases of suspected IPV. Drs. Leslie Halpern and Thomas Dodson lead the specialty in a body of work that identifies markers for domestic violence. This has led to the development of a significant new predictive model to identify women whose injuries resulted from intimate partner violence.
Published literature suggests associations between certain factors--age, race, socio-economic status, education--and IPV. "While these associations describe the problem, they don't help healthcare professionals identify victims who already may be experiencing a cycle of IPV," reports Dr. Halpern. "Our goal has been to look at point-of-care data for patients who present with injuries to see if these factors can help identify whose injuries were likely to have been caused by IPV."
"Often, factors that traditionally help screen for IPV aren't available at the point of care," Dr. Dodson adds. "Our most recent study is notable in that it uses readily available data to facilitate early diagnosis and hopefully prevent future acts of intimate partner violence."
Dr. Halpern was awarded the 2007 Timothy White 'Take a Stand' Award for her ongoing work on detecting IPV and educating the medical profession on its role in IPV diagnosis and prevention.
Halpern LR, Dodson TB. A predictive model to identify women with injuries related to intimate partner violence. Journal of the American Dental Association 2006; 137:604-609. (Cover story)
Halpern LR, Susarla S, Finkel M, Dodson TB. Injury location and screening questionnaires as markers for intimate partner violence. J Oral Maxillofac Surg 1255-61, 2005.
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