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Intimate partner violence

Diagnosis of IPV is challenging because the clinical characteristics of its victims—bruises, broken bones—can have many causes. Physicians must rely on reporting by the victims themselves, who are often unwilling or unable to report the cause of their injuries.

As facial specialists, dentists in general and oral surgeons in particular are uniquely positioned to intervene in cases of suspected IPV. Drs. Leslie Halpern and Thomas Dodson lead the specialty in a body of work that identifies markers for domestic violence. This has led to the development of a significant new predictive model to identify women whose injuries resulted from intimate partner violence.

Published literature suggests associations between certain factors—age, race, socio-economic status, education—and IPV. "While these associations describe the problem, they don't help healthcare professionals identify victims who already may be experiencing a cycle of IPV," reports Dr. Halpern. "Our goal has been to look at point of care data for patients who present with injuries to see if these factors can help identify whose injuries were likely to have been caused by IPV."

"Often, factors that traditionally help screen for IPV aren't available at the point of care," Dr. Dodson adds. "Our most recent study is notable in that it uses readily available data to facilitate early diagnosis and hopefully prevent future acts of intimate partner violence."

Dr. Halpern was awarded the 2007 Timothy White 'Take a Stand' Award for her ongoing work on detecting IPV and educating the medical profession on its role in IPV diagnosis and prevention.


Halpern LR, Dodson TB. A predictive model to identify women with injuries related to intimate partner violence. JADA 2006;137:604-9. Cover story.

Halpern LR, Perciaccante VJ, Hayes C, Susarla S, Dodson TB. A protocol to diagnose intimate partner violence in the emergency department. J Trauma 2006;60(5):1101-5.

Halpern LR, Susarla S, Finkel M, Dodson TB. Injury location and screening questionnaires as markers for intimate partner violence. J Oral Maxillofac Surg 2005;1255-61.

Perciaccante V, Dodson TB, Och H. Head, neck and facial injuries as markers of domestic violence in women. J Oral Maxillofac Surg 1999;57:760.

Ochs HA, Dodson TB, Neuenschwander MC. Are head, neck, and face injuries markers for domestic violence? JADA 1996;127:757-61.

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