October 15, 2013

SLU Psychiatrist To Healthcare Providers: A Simple Question Can Save Lives and Improve the Health of Patients

Manepalli (third from right) and team wear purple to help raise awareness about domestic violence.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Jothika Manepalli, M.D., professor of neurology and psychiatry is starting a campaign to increase awareness of the impact of intimate partner violence.

"The impact of trauma on the health and well-being of children, women and men is enormous. I am acutely aware of and advocate for the prevention of intimate partner violence, also known as domestic violence. As healthcare providers we should be aware and educate our students, residents, colleagues and patients," says Manepalli.

Domestic violence can affect anyone young and old, across all cultures and social status.

Research has found that intimate partner violence is connected to the poor health and well-being of Americans. Healthy People 2010, a prevention agenda for the nation, designated intimate partner violence as one of the most significant preventable threats to health in the United States.

Healthcare providers routinely screen women for preventable conditions such as high blood pressure and cigarette smoking, but too often they do not ask their patients about abuse. In fact, abuse may be connected to subsequent health concerns, like cigarette smoking and poor compliance with medication treatment for hypertension.

“This needs to change,” Manepalli said. “There is no excuse for ignoring domestic violence in health care settings. “As healthcare providers, we have the opportunity to help the many hidden victims of domestic violence in our community by training ourselves to screen our patients, identify abuse and provide referrals,” said Manepalli.

“Intimate partner violence is a healthcare problem of epidemic proportions in our country. The good news, though, is that domestic violence is a problem we can solve. Healthcare providers can play an essential role in that critical effort.”

“So just ask every patient you see and ask each time you see them ‘Does your partner ever abuse you physically or emotionally?’ or ‘Are you in an abusive relation now or have you been in the past?’

“There are resources available to help those in abusive situations. The first step is to reach out for help.”

Manepalli will start this campaign by asking all healthcare providers to be committed to doing their part to end abuse and she hopes that more healthcare providers in the community and across the country will join the effort by screening patients for domestic violence during Domestic Violence Awareness Month and throughout the year.

Manepalli encourages the following.

  • Wear a purple tie, shirt, dress or a ribbon on Wednesday Oct.16 and every Wednesday for the rest of the month.
  • Tell anyone who listens why you are wearing purple and how domestic violence impacts physical and mental health.
  • View posters at SLU Hospital near the cafeteria on Oct. 16.
  • Educate yourself about the impact of domestic violence on physical and mental health.
  • Make a habit, if you are a healthcare provider, of asking patients about domestic violence every time you see them.
Manepalli has partnered with SLU Hospital in this campaign and Chelsea Robinson-Copass, MSW, and Theresa Slanders, MSPH, are assisting.
Jothika Manepalli, M.D., professor of neurology and psychiatry  

Domestic violence resources
Healthcare provider resources

1. The National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence: 1-800-595-4889

2. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention: http://cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/index.html

3. Academy on Violence and Abuse: http://avahealth.org

4. Missouri healthcare providers and friends who care about domestic violence and health. http://missourihcadv.wordpress.com/

5. Missouri Coalition against domestic and sexual violence. http://www.mocadsv.org/

6. Saint Louis University of School of Medicine, Department of Neurology and Psychiatry: Dr. Jothika Manepalli conducts a didactic course every year during the month of October called "Domestic Violence: Impact on Health, prevention recognition and treatment." Call the department for dates 314-977-4825.

Patient resources

1. National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224; www.ndvh.org

2. National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673; www.rainn.org

3. National Organization for Victim Assistance: 1-800-879-6682; www.trynova.org

4. Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women: 1-888-743-5754; www.dahmw.org

5. Missouri Coalition against domestic and sexual violence. http://www.mocadsv.org/

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