The health impact of violence and abuse has been recognized as a significant public health problem since the mid 1980s, but that recognition has broadened in the past decade. Current and past exposure to violence and abuse significantly increases the risk of many physical and behavioral health problems including cardiovascular, immune and reproductive health disorders, depression, alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse, and injury. Physical and behavioral health professionals are in a unique position to offer their patients and clients help in the form of education, prevention, and intervention. The following core competencies have been developed to help ensure that all health care professionals have a solid understanding of the problem, and gain the skills and confidence they will need to work with patients, clients, colleagues and health care systems to combat the epidemic of violence and abuse. The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) 2002 report entitled, Confronting Chronic Neglect: The Education and Training of Health Professionals on Family Violence, (Cohn, et all, 2002) called for health professional organizations to develop and provide guidance to their members, constituents, institutions, and stakeholders regarding violence and abuse education.
Specifically, these recommendations emphasized the need for organizations to provide guidance in (1) competencies to be addressed in health professional curricula, (2) effective teaching strategies, and (3) approaches to achieving sustained behavior changes among health professionals. The IOM further recommended that health professional organizations identify and disseminate information on approaches for overcoming barriers to training on family violence. Although some progress has been made, training and education about the health problems related to violence and abuse remains highly variable and often marginalized in the curricula of most health professions schools as well as within the individual practices of physical and behavioral health professionals and the U.S. health delivery system. While the governing bodies in some health disciplines have recognized the need for core competencies appropriate to practitioners in their fields, the call for an overarching set of principles remains unmet. The Academy on Violence and Abuse (AVA) was founded in 2005 to address these concerns and to support actions to achieve the IOM recommendations.
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