Primary care physicians' attitudes to battered women and feelings of self-competence regarding their care

S. Rabin, E. Kahan, S. Zalewsky, B. Rabin, M. Herz, O. Mehudar, E. Kitai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Previous descriptive studies have demonstrated the problematic nature of physicians' attitudes toward battered women. However, little empirical research has been done in the field, especially among the various medical specialties. Objectives: To compare the approach and feelings of competence regarding the care of battered women between primary care and non-primary care physicians. The non-primary care physicians who are likely to encounter battered women in the ambulatory setting are gynecologists and orthopedists. Methods: A self-report questionnaire formulated for this study was mailed to a random sample of 400 physicians working in ambulatory clinics of the two main health maintenance organizations in Israel (300 primary care physicians, 50 gynecologists and 50 orthopedists). Results: In both physician groups, treating battered women tended to evoke more negative emotional states than treating patients with infectious disease. The most prevalent mood state related to the management of battered women was anger at her situation. Primary care physicians experienced more states of tension and confusion than non-primary care physicians and had lower perceived self-efficacy and self-competence in dealing with battered women. Conclusions: Though both physician groups exhibited negative feelings when confronting battered women, the stronger emotion of the primary care physicians may indicate greater sensitivity and personal awareness. We believe that more in-service training should be introduced to help physicians at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels to cope both emotionally and professionally with these patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)753-757
Number of pages5
JournalIsrael Medical Association Journal
Issue number10
StatePublished - 21 Nov 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Battered women
  • Ethics
  • Family physicians
  • Family violence
  • Feelings
  • Primary care
  • Wife abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (all)


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