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Assessing an Educational Intervention to Improve Physician Violence Screening Skills

Abstract : Objectives. Health professionals play an integral role in assessing the risk of violence in their patients. However, there have been few evaluations of violence prevention education programs for health care personnel. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of a violence-screening education program on pediatric residents' and medical students' comfort level and skills in the identification and management of violence risks. Setting. Adolescent clinic of a tertiary care pediatric hospital. Participants. Fifty-six second-year residents and third-year medical students assigned to a 4-week adolescent clinic rotation. Design. Randomized, controlled comparison study conducted over a 1-year period. Intervention. On alternate months, medical students and residents in the intervention group participated in a 3-hour workshop on violence prevention. The workshop included a didactic session with an overview of firearm, media, and sexual violence; a discussion of risk factors for adolescent violence; and training on the approach to the adolescent interview. Participants also discussed violence risks in the community with a panel of teen health educators, engaged in one-on-one role play with the youth educators, and received feedback on their violence screening skills. The control group received the standard ambulatory clinic manual with articles on violence prevention. Evaluation Methods. All participants completed prerotation and postrotation questionnaires assessing their self-reported screening practices, as well as perceived importance and confidence in violence screening. Participants also interviewed and examined an adolescent standardized patient (SP) in the clinic. SPs completed evaluations on the content of the residents' and students' screening, their interpersonal skills, and their skill in the identification and management of the violence-related problem. Results. Over 12 months, 30 control and 26 intervention participants were recruited. There were no differences in prerotation questionnaire scores for intervention and control groups in screening practices, perceived importance and confidence in violence screening. Postrotation intervention participants reported more screening compared with controls on violence in school/neighborhood and fighting history. There was also greater perceived importance in asking about access/use of weapons and violence in school/neighborhood. Intervention participants also had improved performance compared with controls on SP evaluations of screening for violence, identification and management of the violence-related scenario, and interpersonal skills. Conclusion. A violence prevention education program with teen health educators improved participants' self-reported violence questioning, as well as increased perceived comfort and importance in violence screening. Participants in the program also improved their identification and management of a standardized violence-related scenario presented in an adolescent clinic setting. adolescent violence, physician education, violence risk screening.