Interpersonal Violence in Texas: A Physician's Role

Texas Medicine Magazine Logo

Abstract of Journal Article - January 2007  

By Rita E. Schindeler-Trachta, DO, and F. David Schneider, MD, MSPH

Dr Schindeler-Trachta, founder and owner of Austin Family Medical Clinic, Austin, Texas, and board member of the Women's Advocacy Project; and Dr Schneider, professor and vice chair in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and founding president of the Academy on Violence and Abuse. Send correspondence to Rita E. Schindeler-Trachta, DO, Austin Family Medical Clinic, 4007 James Casey St, Ste C-250A, Austin, TX 78745; email:

The overall national incidence rates of domestic violence are falling, yet the Texas rates are rising and are now twice the national average. Domestic violence, now termed intimate-partner violence, affects both men and women of all ages, races, and socioeconomic strata. While some risk factors are known, the Texas disparities are not yet fully understood. Studies indicate three contributors to the national decline: the provision of legal services, improvements in economic status, and population aging. Legal action has been shown to decrease repeat incidents by 80%. 

A little known Texas law requires doctors to provide safety and shelter information to patients with injuries believed to be caused by family violence and to document in the patient's medical record that the information was made available to the patient. Our best hope to aid in breaking the cycle of violence is to actively screen and distribute safety information to our patients. Every physician can ask every patient, "Do you feel safe in your home?" 

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