The Voices of Survivors documentary: Using patient narrative to educate physicians about domestic violence

Christina Nicolaidis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


This article describes a method of developing physician education materials using analysis of domestic violence patient experiences and patients' descriptions of their experiences. The process began with interviews of 21 domestic violence survivors, focusing on what they wanted to teach physicians. Qualitative analysis of these interviews identified 4 main themes regarding what survivors wanted physicians to understand about life in an abusive relationship: that domestic violence is universal, that it is more than just physical assaults, that it is all about power and control, and that it affects the entire family. Because what survivors wanted from physicians differed depending on where they were in their abusive relationships, recommendations were developed for each of 5 common situations: when a patient may not yet recognize the abuse, when s/he may not be ready or able to disclose the abuse, when s/he chooses to remain in an abusive relationship, when s/he is seeking care for an acute assault, and when s/he has left the relationship but not yet healed. Interview excerpts representing each of the identified themes are used to create a 30-minute educational documentary. A written companion guide covers the traditional aspects of domestic violence education. In teaching about domestic violence or other health problems where it is difficult for physicians to understand their patients intuitively, an educator's most important role may be to direct learners to listen to the experience and wisdom of patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-124
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Domestic violence
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Medical education
  • Multimedia
  • Patient narrative
  • Patient-centered care
  • Qualitative methods
  • Spouse abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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