Background: Intimate partner violence [IPV] is an issue of global concern, with women and girls being more affected. As it is generally under-reported, physicians play an important role in identification, management and support of such victims.
Objectives: To assess knowledge and preparedness of physicians on IPV management, and to identify barriers encountered by them in screening for IPV.
Method: A cross-sectional survey of 200 medical doctors working in the four tertiary hospitals in Ogun State was conducted, using a standardized self administered structured questionnaire. Data collected was analyzed with SPSS version 17 package.
Results: One hundred and fifty seven (77.5%) physicians responded. Majority were junior resident doctors (57.9%), male (65%) and married (68.6%). Mean age of respondents was 34.5years and average duration of practice was 8.1years. Many participants (40.8%) had received no previous domestic violence training. Most respondents only had fair knowledge about IPV (66.4%) but expressed a positive attitude towards helping abused victims. Many clinicians felt poorly prepared to ask relevant questions about IPV (38.5%) or to fulfil state reporting requirements if abuse was disclosed (55.7%). Perceived knowledge on these issues and on referral sources for IPV victims was also minimal. Barriers to management encountered by respondents include poor access to information on IPV management, inadequate knowledge of referral sources and perception of victim personality as a factor for IPV.
Conclusion: Physicians in Ogun state have inadequate knowledge of IPV, and require more access to information on its management. Though their attitude towards IPV victims is generally positive, further education is necessary to correct misconceptions. Development and dissemination of institutional protocols for IPV management and state legal reporting procedures will help improve physicians’ competence for managing IPV victims.