Objective: We aimed to explore what women valued most in disclosing partner abuse to their doctor and whether disclosure played a role in handling their abuse situation. Methods: A qualitative method was used to understand abused women's views and experiences with disclosure to their family doctor. Thirty-six women were interviewed within 4 weeks after disclosure to their family doctor. Results: Most women went to see the doctor for some medical complaint, and only three women planned to disclose the abuse. Twenty-five women valued most their doctor's communicative approach with empathy or empowering and nine women valued most the instrumental approach. Eight women of the latter group wanted this combined with a communicative approach. After disclosure to the family doctor, a group of women (n = 20) perceived a real change in their possibilities to handle their situation. They appeared to be in a position we named: 'in transition', a state in which they started or continued a process of change. Another group of women (n = 13) appeared to be in a 'locked-up' position, a state without any prospect on change, feeling out of control and fearing the abuser. Three women reacted reserved towards change. Conclusion: A communicative approach, providing empathy and empowerment, is important to women in disclosing partner abuse. More than half of the women perceived possibilities for a change. Practice implications: Talking about abuse is an important step in a woman's process of change. Doctors should acknowledge the advantage of their position as a professional confidant and ask women about abuse.

Communication, Family medicine, General practice, Intimate partner abuse, Qualitative research, Women
dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pec.2007.11.013, hdl.handle.net/1765/29757
Patient Education and Counseling
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Lo Fo Wong, S, Wester, F, Mol, S, Römkens, R, Hezemans, D, & Lagro-Janssen, A.L.M. (2008). Talking matters: Abused women's views on disclosure of partner abuse to the family doctor and its role in handling the abuse situation. Patient Education and Counseling, 70(3), 386–394. doi:10.1016/j.pec.2007.11.013