, Volume 23, Issue 7, pp 1043-1047
Date: 10 Jul 2008

Impact of Participation in a Community-Based Intimate Partner Violence Prevention Program on Medical Students: A Multi-Center Study

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Physicians are generally poorly trained to recognize, treat or refer adolescents at risk for intimate partner violence (IPV). Participation in community programs may improve medical students’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes about IPV prevention.


To determine whether the experience of serving as educators in a community-based adolescent IPV prevention program improves medical students’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes toward victims of IPV, beyond that of didactic training.


One hundred and seventeen students attending 4 medical schools.


Students were randomly assigned to didactic training in adolescent IPV prevention with or without participation as educators in a community-based adolescent IPV prevention program. Students assigned to didactic training alone served as community educators after the study was completed.


Knowledge, self-assessment of skills and attitudes about intimate partner violence and future plans to pursue outreach work.


The baseline mean knowledge score of 10.25 improved to 21.64 after didactic training (p ≤ .001). Medical students in the “didactic plus outreach” group demonstrated higher levels of confidence in their ability to address issues of intimate partner violence, (mean = 41.91) than did students in the “didactic only” group (mean = 38.94) after controlling for initial levels of confidence (p ≤ .002).


Experience as educators in a community-based program to prevent adolescent IPV improved medical students’ confidence and attitudes in recognizing and taking action in situations of adolescent IPV, whereas participation in didactic training alone significantly improved students’ knowledge.

At the time of this study, Dr. Bigby and Dr. Miller were with the Harvard Medical School Center of Excellence in Women’s Health.