AAN Position Statement Guides Neurologists on Abused Patients

The statement was published in the February 7, 2012, print issue of Neurology®.

The statement defines abuse and how its relationship to neurologic disease is significant: more than 90 percent of all injuries from “intimate partner violence” (IPV) occur to the head, face, or neck region, and can lead to traumatic brain injury, particularly over long periods of exposure. Also, people with neurologic disorders such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or stroke may be at higher risk for abuse and neglect.

According to the National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1998), it is estimated that between 20 and 30 percent of women and 7.5 percent of men in the United States have been physically and/or sexually abused by an intimate partner at some point in their adult lives. Other types of maltreatment include child abuse, emotional abuse, elder abuse and neglect. Adults who have been victimized experience a 2.5 fold increase in health care utilization during their lives. Neurologists see patients who are risk for abuse, or have conditions which have directly or indirectly are associated with maltreatment.

The AAN position statement outlines 10 principles of intervention by the physician when meeting with patients, beginning with integrating questions about abuse into the medical history and routinely screening all patients for past and ongoing violence. Patients should be counseled and provided with resources to help address the abuse or neglect. Child abuse, elder abuse, and abuse of those who are disabled must be reported in all states. Spouse abuse must be reported in California, Colorado, Kentucky, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island.

Finally, the statement provides a series of helpful assessment questions and strategies that the physician can use when meeting with patients.

Read the Statement

Academy Seeks Ambassadors to Address Domestic Violence

The AAN is offering free training to members who wish to be ambassadors to help address domestic violence issues in their communities and educate their colleagues at state neurology society meetings.

The training session will be held at the Annual Meeting in New Orleans on Monday, April 23, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Contact Amy Wallace at [email protected] or (651) 695-2817 for more information or to register.