Between 10% and 70% of women may have been physically or sexually assaulted by a partner at some stage, with assault rates against men reported at about one quarter of the rate against women. In at least half of people studied, the problem lasts for 5 years or more. Women reporting intimate partner violence (IPV) are more likely than other women to complain of poor physical or mental health, and of disability.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical question: What are the effects of interventions initiated by healthcare professionals aimed at female victims of intimate partner violence? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other relevant databases up to September 2009 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review).
We found 26 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: advocacy; career counselling plus critical consciousness awareness; cognitive behavioural counselling; cognitive trauma therapy; counselling; nurse support and guidance; peer support groups; safety planning; and shelters.
Between 10% and 70% of women may have been physically or sexually assaulted by a partner at some stage, with reported assault rates against men about one quarter of the rate against women. In at least half of people studied, the problem lasts for 5 years or more.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) has been associated with socioeconomic and personality factors, marital discord, exposure to violence in family of origin, and partner's drug or alcohol abuse.Women reporting IPV are more likely than other women to complain of poor physical or mental health, and of disability.
Advocacy may reduce revictimisation rates compared with no treatment, but it may have low levels of acceptability.
Cognitive trauma therapy may reduce post-traumatic stress disorder and depression compared with no treatment.
Cognitive behavioural counselling may reduce minor physical or sexual IPV, both minor and severe psychological IPV and depression compared with no counselling.
Career counselling plus critical consciousness awareness may increase a woman's confidence and awareness of the impact of IPV on her life compared with career counselling alone.
We don't know whether other types of counselling are effective compared with no counselling. Although empowerment counselling seems to reduce trait anxiety, it does not seem to reduce current anxiety or depression or to improve self-esteem.
We don't know how different types of counselling compare with each other.
Peer support groups may improve psychological distress and decrease use of healthcare services compared with no intervention.
Nurse support and guidance is probably unlikely to be beneficial in IPV
Safety planning may reduce the rate of subsequent abuse in the short term, but longer-term benefit is unknown.
We don't know whether the use of shelters reduces revictimisation, as we found little research.