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Case/Article Review 7
Researchers at the University of Arizona College of Medicine have published an article to highlight the important role dentists can play in identifying domestic violence victims. Published April 11 in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma, the article reports that as much as 75 percent of head and neck trauma associated with domestic violence occurs with oral injury. Researchers concluded that dentists are in the unique position to be the first line of defense in identifying evidence of assault, and then reporting potential cases of domestic violence. "The overall purpose of the paper is to bring dentistry and its subspecialties into the conversation about traumatic brain injury (TBI), specifically in cases of domestic violence," said Midwestern University dental student Timothy Ellis, lead author of the study.
An estimated 41.5 million individuals who will experience some type of domestic violence during their lifetime, and 20.75 million will sustain a TBI. Of the victims that sustain a TBI, 8.3 million will live with some form of long-term physiological or psychological consequences of the injury. According to the publication, dentists receive little to no education about identifying and discussing domestic violence with potential victims, yet they may be the first and only health professional to evaluate a domestic violence victim.
"I have spoken with several dentists regarding the topic," Ellis said. "Many find it interesting, however, they have little experience. The most common answer I receive is that they had just never thought about it or believed that such a case would be more likely to present in a medical facility and thus, it does not cross their mind when interacting with patients on a daily basis. That said, many dentists are intrigued by the topic and the response has been positive. It is interesting that very stringent protocols exist in paediatric dentistry, but a large gap exists when dealing with teens, young adults and adults in general."
Outline the main issues raised
(Reference: Adapted from: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190425133034.htm)
Example Candidate Response
Researchers at the University of Arizona have published an article focusing on the potential that dentists have to identify victims of domestic abuse.
With around 41.5 million Americans experiencing some form of domestic violence during their lifetime, this widespread issue deserves attention and consistent national efforts to aid in its reduction.
However, as it stands dentists receive inadequate training in this area. We must question if it is the role of dentists to spot domestic abuse victims. If it is made part of their job, and they fail to fulfil this role, they could be punished or at least feel a huge level of guilt. However, very few dentists would have chosen to train in the role with this kind of responsibility in mind.
Indeed, we are told that most dentists have never thought about domestic abuse presenting in their practice.
As such, we must reflect on the role of healthcare workers, and of different specialties. We must put patients’ interests first, which in this case means a difficult new role for dentists, and potentially extra training - but safer lives for the public.