Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

MS Human Genetics


Human Genetics Graduate Program


Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a major health concern that has become a nationwide epidemic in the United States (ACOG, 2013). The World Health Organization (WHO) describes IPV as physical, sexual, psychological harm including physical aggression and sexual coercion by a current or former intimate partner (WHO, 2015). Due to the psychosocial depth and nature of discussions within genetic counseling sessions, patients may disclose and/or discuss IPV as it relates to sexual wellbeing, reproductive and overall health. This study aims to assess the role for IPV screening, counseling and intervention in the genetic counseling practice by investigating the incidence, awareness, experiences and attitudes about IPV among genetic counseling patients. Patients receiving genetic counseling at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York were anonymously surveyed about personal experiences and perspectives on IPV as a topic of discussion and/or disclosure during a genetic counseling session. Among 60 eligible patients, 50 completed the survey (49 females, 1 male, of which, 5 identified as LGBT) ages 20 to 66. The incidence of IPV in this group was 16% (n=8). The majority of participants had never been asked about IPV by a healthcare provider (n=32; 64.0%), would have felt comfortable answering questions about IPV by their healthcare provider (n=34; 68.0%), and would have felt comfortable answering questions about IPV by their genetic counselor (n=39; 78.0%). Perspectives from all participants, notably those with IPV history, provided tremendous insights as to the role of genetic counselors in IPV screening and highlighted areas for IPV screening and counseling training.