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Research Projects

Dental Healthcare:

Domestic Violence Tutorial for Dentists

CHIPS releases AVDR Tutorial on DVD!

The AVDR Tutorial for Dentists brings research-based provider education to new format

The Family Violence Prevention Fund is currently disseminating our DVD. To request a free copy, please click here.

CHIPS is offering a free DVD containing a brief, interactive multimedia tutorial for dental instructors and practicing dentists. The AVDR Tutorial for Dentists is designed to educate dentists about providing an effective response to domestic violence. The interactive tutorial takes just 15 minutes to complete.

Our studies have found the tutorial to be effective in improving dentists’ knowledge and readiness to provide a response when their patients display signs of domestic violence. Given this success, we have converted the multimedia tutorial to a DVD. The DVD program can be viewed on a computer with a DVD drive, or a DVD player connected to a television set. The DVD also includes a DVD-ROM folder with useful documents: a lesson plan, a role-playing exercise, and a sample documentation form. The DVD format should make the program accessible to practicing dentists and instructors at dental schools.

This project was supported by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

Formative Work

In the field of dentistry, we have focused our research on those health-related behaviors that may be discussed during a dental visit. Our research efforts focus on the little appreciated fact that dentists are frequently the first health care provider that a victim of domestic violence sees when seeking care for violence-related injuries. Dentists also often develop strong, long-lasting relationships with many of their patients that may encourage the disclosure of sensitive information, such as violence in a relationship. Despite their advantageous position to intervene, dentists are, on the whole, unprepared for this situation. Dental students receive little or no training in identifying and discussing domestic violence, or in providing appropriate care, counseling and referrals to patients who disclose domestic violence.

The AVDR Tutorial for Dentists is centered around a four-stage process, known as AVDR: asking patients about abuse; providing validating messages that acknowledge that battering is wrong while confirming the patientís worth; documenting the signs, symptoms, and disclosures in the patientís dental record; and referring victims to specialists and resources in the community.

These straightforward intervention steps are helpful to patients and similar to those shown to be successful for reducing smoking and alcohol risks. In fact, our data suggest that providers, by compassionately asking and offering validating messages (messages that acknowledge the individualís worth and that battering is wrong), may be the most important and effective interventions of all. Victims of domestic violence reported that even brief, compassionate statements of validation from a health care provider, regardless of whether or not the victims had disclosed abuse, had reduced their shame and denial and ďstarted the wheels turningĒ toward changing their situation. Compassionate asking and validation also send the message that domestic violence is wrong and that help is available, thereby leading the patient toward eventual disclosure and increased awareness of the need to change her situation.

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Page last updated September 18, 2009