Primary Care Physicians’ Response to Domestic Violence: Opening Pandora’s Box

Nancy Kathleen Sugg, Thomas Inui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

500 Scopus citations


Objective. —To explore primary care physicians’ experiences with domestic violence victims to determine the barriers to problem recognition and intervention in the primary care setting. Design. —Ethnography, a qualitative research method involving the use of open-ended, semistructured interviews. Setting. —An urban health maintenance organization serving a predominantly white, middle-income population. Participants. —Thirty-eight physicians, predominantly family practitioners (89%), were interviewed. Results. —Analysis of the interviews revealed that physicians found exploring domestic violence in the clinical setting analogous to “opening Pandora’s box.” Their issues include lack of comfort, fear of offending, powerlessness, loss of control, and time constraints. Conclusion. —This study revealed several barriers that physicians perceived as preventing them from comfortably intervening with domestic violence victims. These issues need to be addressed in training programs. Further studies should be done to assess generalizability of these findings to other groups of physicians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3157-3160
Number of pages4
JournalJAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association
Issue number23
StatePublished - Jun 17 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Primary Care Physicians’ Response to Domestic Violence: Opening Pandora’s Box'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this