CHICAGO — While intimate partner violence (IPV) can occur between heterosexual or same-sex couples, efforts to address this public health problem have remained mostly focused on heterosexual women despite other populations experiencing IPV at similar or higher rates. The American Medical Association (AMA) adopted policy at its Interim Meeting today aimed at addressing IPV in the LGBTQ population. The new policy calls for physician and community awareness of IPV among LGBTQ patients, and federal funding to support programs and services for survivors that do not discriminate against underserved communities, including sexual and gender minorities.

Due to the limited data available, the policy encourages more research on IPV in the LGBTQ community to include studies on the prevalence, accuracy of screening tools, effectiveness of early detection and interventions, as well as the benefits and harms of screening. The policy also encourages dissemination of such research to educate physicians and the community on these issues.

“We encourage physicians to be alert to the possibility of intimate partner violence among their LGBTQ patients and for them to become familiar with the resources available in their communities for these patients,” said E. Scott Ferguson, M.D., a member of the AMA Board of Trustees. “As Congress considers reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, it will be important to ensure federally funded programs and services for survivors do not discriminate against sexual and gender minorities.”

IPV includes physical violence, sexual violence, stalking and psychological aggression (including coercive acts) by a current or former intimate partner—including current or former spouses, boyfriends or girlfriends, dating partners, or sexual partners.

In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey provided the first national-level data on the prevalence of intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and stalking among the lesbian, gay, and bisexual population. The pattern of results suggests that these individuals experience an equal or greater likelihood of experiencing sexual violence, stalking, and IPV compared with heterosexuals. In particular, the lifetime prevalence of IPV in the LGBTQ community is estimated to be comparable to or higher than that among heterosexual couples.

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The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care.  The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.