Nurses ‘in the Vanguard’ of Responding to Intimate Partner Violence

Traveling exhibition highlights activism of the nursing community


In the United States, nearly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime. In addition to the negative mental and physical effects of the violence itself, people who experience IPV are more likely to develop medical conditions including HIV, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and cardiovascular disease.

The need for public health interventions to prevent and combat IPV wasn’t always recognized, but nurses have been at the forefront of helping IPV be viewed as a serious health issue. A traveling exhibition produced by the National Library of Medicine, “Confronting Violence: Improving Women’s Lives,” explains the history of activism that brought IPV to light and highlights nurses as key champions of those experiencing IPV. In 1977, nurses at Brigham and Women’s Hospital created the first protocol for the identification and treatment of women experiencing IPV.

Since then, nurses have continued their advocacy. As the introduction to the exhibit explains: “With passion and persistence [nurses]… were in the vanguard as they pushed the larger medical community to identify victims, adequately respond to their needs, and work towards the prevention of domestic violence.”

Read more about the exhibition at NIH’s U.S. Library of National Medicine. Epic community members can also learn more about tools to identify and care for patients experiencing IPV in a Clinical Program on the Userweb and have it installed as part of Epic’s services.