Domestic violence training for future GPs 'inadequate', researchers find

Current levels of training for future GPs on domestic violence and abuse are inadequate, according to a University of Bristol study.

Researchers highlighted that NICE guidance recommends that teaching about domestic violence and abuse should be a key part of medical education.

But responses from primary care teaching leads at 25 out of 34 UK medical schools show that many offer very limited education for GP trainees on this issue.

The study - backed by the RCGP - found that 21 medical schools reported delivering some form of DVA education, but 11 offered 'only 0 to 2 contact hours' over a five-year degree.

Around a third of women worldwide have suffered domestic violence or abuse from their husband or partner, the researchers reported - a 'major violation of human rights that damages the health of women, men and their children'.

Trust in GPs

Lead author Dr Lucy Potter, from Bristol’s Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC), said: 'Doctors are central to the identification, safety and referral of domestic violence and abuse survivors, who are more likely to disclose abuse to them than to any other professionals.

'These findings show there is considerable variation in how much is taught to UK medical students. When considering the profound impact on health and wellbeing it is imperative that the future generation of doctors are equipped with sufficient training to be able to recognise the signs of domestic violence and abuse in patients and manage or refer them through the appropriate channels.'

The authors warned that the current level of education for GP trainees on domestic violence and abuse was inadequate, and called for increased teaching on this subject to be brought into the GP curriculum throughout pre-clinical to clinical years.

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