12 October 2011

GPs Tackle the Taboo of Domestic Violence

Innovative e-learning support to help GPs recognise and respond to signs of domestic violence against patients has been produced by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).

The RCGP online course encourages GPs to look at their own background knowledge, attitudes and decision-making skills then leads them through useful exercises in recognising violence; sensitive ways of broaching the subject with the patient, and the different options available.

Developed with funding from the Department of Health, the course will enable GPs and other health professionals to provide more support to patients in what can be a very difficult area for general practice.

Dr Clare Gerada has pledged to tackle domestic violence as a priority during her three years as Chair of the RCGP. She said: “Only a small number of women seeking medical help for problems related to domestic violence will present to their GP with physical injuries, but the impact is felt in every GP’s surgery, through patients with mental health issues, problems with self esteem or unexplained physical symptoms.

“In many cases, general practice is the first port of call for women who want help to change their situation and the way in which a GP responds can make an immense difference to that woman's life and those of her children.

“But very few patients raise it directly, making it very difficult area for GPs to broach and deal with. I am delighted that we are now able to provide practical support that will enable doctors to have these difficult conversations and suggest solutions in a non-judgmental way.

“We are indebted to the Department of Health for funding this vital work which will develop the skills and confidence of GPs and transform the lives of many women and children.”

Violence Against Women and Children: an RCGP online course can be accessed at the RCGP website at: http://elearning.rcgp.org.uk/course/view.php?id=88 (registration required). 

Joint RCGP Clinical Champions for Domestic Violence, Professor Gene Feder and Dr Alex Sohal,  will also be presenting a session on domestic violence and social exclusion at the RCGP Annual Conference next week.  They will discuss why domestic violence is an important public health and clinical issue for GPs and the practice team, including its prevalence, health impact and hidden aetiological role in many common conditions. 

Professor Feder and Dr Sohal have also co-written an article Domestic violence: a priority health issue in the October issue of RCGP News .

Further information

RCGP Press office – 020 3188 7574/7575/7576
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659


To access the RCGP online course, users do need to register on the RCGP website, this is a very quick and simple process. 

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of over 42,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.