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Open Access Research article

Improving identification and management of partner violence: examining the process of academic detailing: a qualitative study

Elizabeth A Edwardsen*, Susan H Horwitz, Naomi A Pless, Helena D le Roux and Kevin A Fiscella

Author Affiliations

University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY, 14642, USA

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BMC Medical Education 2011, 11:36  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-11-36

Published: 16 June 2011



Many physicians do not routinely inquire about intimate partner violence.


This qualitative study explores the process of academic detailing as an intervention to change physician behavior with regard to intimate partner violence (IPV) identification and documentation.


A non-physician academic detailer provided a seven-session modular curriculum over a two-and-a-half month period. The detailer noted written details of each training session. Audiotapes of training sessions and semi-structured exit interviews with each physician were recorded and transcribed. Transcriptions were qualitatively and thematically coded and analyzed using Atlas ti®.


All three study physicians reported increased clarity with regard to the scope of their responsibility to their patients experiencing IPV. They also reported increased levels of comfort in the effective identification and appropriate documentation of IPV and the provision of ongoing support to the patient, including referrals to specialized community services.


Academic detailing, if presented by a supportive and knowledgeable academic detailer, shows promise to improve physician attitudes and practices with regards to patients in violent relationships.