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Enhancing the cancer workforce response to domestic violence and abuse: the time is now

10 March 2022
Volume 31 · Issue 5

Domestic violence and abuse (DVA) affects at least 8.8 million of us in England and Wales, and includes physical, sexual, economic, psychological, verbal and other forms. Although perpetration by current and former partners is the most frequently reported type, DVA perpetrated by family members is also prevalent. Women and people with disabilities and/or long-standing illnesses are disproportionately affected (Hamberger and Larson, 2015; Office for National Statistics, 2020).

The impact on mental and physical health, both directly and indirectly, is profound and long-lasting (Campbell, 2002; Devries et al, 2011; Garcia-Moreno et al, 2012; Trevillion et al, 2012; Chandan et al, 2020). Some evidence suggests that victim-survivors of DVA are less likely to attend routine breast, colorectal and cervical screening (Farley et al, 2001; Dutta et al, 2018; Massetti et al, 2018) than the general population. Victim-survivors have 2.74 times the odds of receiving an abnormal pap smear result (Reingle Gonzalez et al, 2018), have a 1.5-fold increased risk of discontinuing with follow-up care after such a result (Coker et al, 2006), and have over twice the odds of being diagnosed with different types of cancers (Reingle Gonzalez et al, 2018). DVA limits cancer-related quality of life (Coker et al, 2017), and affects the timeliness of treatment (Martino et al, 2005) and treatment uptake (Jetelina et al, 2020).

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