BMA report

Domestic abuse

Raising awareness of domestic abuse and strategies for doctors to identify and reduce the damage it does.

Location: UK
Audience: All doctors
Updated: Tuesday 8 September 2020
Topics: Ethics
Justice scales article illustration

This report from the Board of Science aims to lead the way in encouraging all health professionals to raise awareness of domestic abuse and to develop strategies to identify and reduce the damage it does to the health and welfare of society.


What you'll get from this report

  • How to understand and identify domestic abuse.
  • The role of healthcare professionals in tackling domestic abuse.
  • Ethical considerations for confidentiality and information sharing.


How to use this report

This report has been informed by, and builds on, the 2013 seminar: 'The role of health professionals in identifying and responding to domestic abuse, including child and elder abuse'. 

It outlines the tools available to healthcare professionals to identify the indicators of domestic abuse before a ‘crisis point’ is reached. 

It is not a set of rules or instructions, or a substitute for careful reflection and discussion with colleagues. You can seek additional advice on specific dilemmas from the BMA’s medical ethics and human rights department, the GMC, or your medical defence organisation.

  • The nature and prevalence of domestic abuse
  • Understanding domestic abuse
  • The impact of domestic abuse on specific vulnerable groups
  • Detection of domestic abuse in healthcare practice
  • Ethical considerations for healthcare professionals dealing with domestic abuse
  • Management of domestic abuse within healthcare specialties
  • Adopting a multi-agency approach
  • Other services involved in domestic abuse