The University of Bristol has called for teaching on domestic violence and abuse (DVA) to be mandatory in medical schools – amid concerns that an increasing number of women are suffering in silence at the hands of an abusive partner.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) added that learning about domestic violence should be an “integral part of medical education”.
According to recent figures, some 35 per cent of women worldwide have suffered abuse from their husband or partner.
The study looked at the responses of top primary care teaching leads in the UK to assess the extent and adequacy of DVA education provided in the UK.
It found that 21 schools offered some form of DVA education, but a further 11 provided just 0 to two contact hours on the subject over a five-year degree.
The University of Bristol recommended that medical schools should adopt more consistency and structure in DVA curricular content and make DVA training mandatory, as set out in NICE guidelines.
Dr Lucy Potter, the study’s lead author from Bristol’s Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC), said: “Doctors are central to the identification, safety and referral of DVA 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 DVA education 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 DVA in patients and manage or refer them through the appropriate channels.”