Expert Perspectives on Intimate Partner Violence Power and Control in Pediatric Healthcare Settings

Published:February 22, 2020DOI:



      Childhood exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) is a pervasive public health epidemic with profound impact on child health. While past work has demonstrated how abusive partners exert control over IPV survivors in a variety of settings (eg workplace, courts, home), scant research has examined how IPV power and control behaviors manifest themselves in pediatric healthcare settings. In this study, we explore the perspectives of pediatric IPV experts about: (1) behaviors used by abusive partners to control IPV survivors in pediatric healthcare settings; (2) how controlling behaviors impact healthcare access and quality; and (3) recommendations for the pediatric healthcare team.


      Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with pediatric IPV experts recruited through snowball sampling. Interviews were individually coded by two research team members and analyzed using thematic analysis.


      Twenty-eight pediatric IPV experts participated. Participants described several types of controlling behaviors including limiting healthcare access, dominating conversations during medical visits, controlling medical decision making, and manipulating perceptions of the healthcare team. Participants acknowledged the challenges of recognizing controlling behaviors and provided several recommendations to addressing behaviors such as leveraging the expertise of multidisciplinary teams.


      Participants described how abusive partners may attempt to control or discredit their partners in pediatric healthcare settings, using subtle behaviors that may be easily missed by the healthcare team. These results set the stage for further research and clinical practice innovation including triangulating the findings with IPV survivors, examining how frequently these behaviors occur, and developing multidisciplinary IPV training for the pediatric healthcare team.


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