Family Counseling Fails to Lift Quality of Life for Abused Women

(HealthDay News) – For women identified as positive for fear of partner, counseling from trained family doctors is not associated with improved quality of life, but may reduce depression, according to a study published online April 16 in The Lancet.

Kelsey Hegarty, PhD, from the University of Melbourne in Australia, and colleagues conducted a cluster randomized trial involving 52 family doctors and their 272 female patients (aged 16–50 years) who screened positive for fear of a partner in the last 12 months. The women were randomized to receive an intervention (brief counseling by a trained doctor; 137 women) or usual care (135 women). Data were collected by postal survey at baseline, and at 6 and 12 months, to examine the effects on quality of life, safety planning and behavior, and mental health.

The researchers found that there was no difference between the groups at 12 months in terms of quality of life, safety planning and behavior, or mental health on the Short-Form 12. There was also no significant difference between the groups in anxiety at 12 months and comfort to discuss fear at 6 months. At 12 months, depression was improved in the intervention group, as was doctor inquiry about the women’s and children’s safety.

“We suggest that family doctors should be trained to ask about the safety of women and children, and to provide supportive counseling for women experiencing abuse, because our findings suggest that, although we detected no improvement in quality of life, counseling can reduce depressive symptoms,” the authors write.

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