Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

January 2002Vol. 3, No. 1Family Violence and the Role of Health Professionals

A new report provides an in-depth look at family violence in the United States and the role of health professionals in dealing with this problem.

The report, entitled Confronting Chronic Neglect, The Education and Training of Health Professionals on Family Violence, was prepared at the request of Congress and published by the Institute of Medicine. The report asserts that little is being done to adequately train health professionals to deal with problems of family violence, despite the fact that health professionals are often the first to encounter victims of family violence.

The researchers examined the current forces influencing health professional education, such as accreditation, licensure, and certification requirements; professional and personal factors; and mandated reporting and education laws. They also reviewed current evaluations of training efforts. In addition, educational activities related to family violence for the following six groups of professionals were outlined:

  • Physicians
  • Physician assistants
  • Nurses
  • Psychologists
  • Social workers
  • Dentists.

The report calls for a thorough evaluation of current programs and encourages innovative approaches to better prepare health professionals to treat victims of abuse and neglect, as well as perpetrators. The researchers make specific recommendations to governmental and private sector entities about evaluating and improving current education and training programs, specifically:

  • Establishment of new, multidisciplinary education and research centers by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that would conduct studies on the total impact of family violence, assess training needs in the health care industry, and investigate gaps in current research.
  • Development of health professional curricula on family violence, effective teaching strategies, approaches to overcoming barriers to training, and approaches to integrate learning into practice by educators and professional organizations.
  • Greater responsibility by health care delivery systems and training settings for developing, testing, and evaluating innovative training models or programs.
  • Evaluation of curricula on family violence for health professionals by Federal agencies and funders of education programs.

While the report focuses on the involvement of health professionals in combating family violence, it also emphasizes that help from others is essential. "Responding to victims of family violence and ultimately preventing its occurrence is a societal responsibility. As such it must be shared," write John D. Stobo, Chair, and Marla E. Salmon, Vice Chair, of the National Academies' Committee that authored the report.

Confronting Chronic Neglect: The Education and Training of Health Professionals on Family Violence is available online at:

To purchase a copy for $39.95, contact:

National Academy Press
2101 Constitution Ave., NW
Box 285
Washington, DC 20055
Phone: 202-334-3313
Toll-free: 800-624-6242
Fax: 202-334-2451