Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Continuing Education for Massachusetts Clinicians: Identification, Assessment, Response, and Prevention

This continuing education course meets the Massachusetts Department of Public Health approved Chapter 260 Training and Education in Sexual and Domestic Violence.

Course Overview
In August 2014, a comprehensive sexual and domestic violence bill was enacted in Massachusetts. Chapter 260 of the Acts of 2014 provides legal protections for victims, outlines criminal offenses, and mandates training for clinical healthcare professionals including physicians, dentists, nurses, physician assistants, clinical social workers, other clinical healthcare professionals, police, and judges. 

This educational offering is presented to physicians and other clinical healthcare professionals in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in compliance with the Acts of 2014, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 260, Section 9. This course provides information, clinical guidance, and resources to help physicians and other practicing healthcare professionals identify and respond, in a trauma-informed and culturally responsive manner, to patients and clients:

  • Who are experiencing domestic violence (DV) and/or sexual violence (SV);
  • Who may be at risk for abuse; or
  • Who may have experienced or been exposed to DV or SV at some point in the past, including during childhood.

    SV and DV are both substantial and significant issues, meriting exploration and response in a manner that is culturally responsive, trauma-informed, and attuned to the range of individual, interpersonal, institutional, societal, and historical influences that can impact each individual and each topic.  SV is a frequent component of DV.

    This course is intended not only to comply with the legislative mandate described above, but also to serve as a foundation for self-directed lifelong learning. Clinicians who are interested in developing deeper or specialized expertise in any aspect of violence across the lifespan (VAL) are encouraged to seek out opportunities within their own professional fields or to contact the Massachusetts Medical Society Department of Health Policy and Public Health for guidance.

    Please read this paragraph carefully prior to beginning this continuing education activityBecause DV and SV are so prevalent both within the Commonwealth as well as beyond, some who interact with this material may have had recent or past personal exposure to these forms of abuse, including during childhood, or may be in an ongoing, current abusive relationship as a survivor or as a perpetrator. Additionally, because this material addresses some of the most purposeful and heinous behaviors encountered in clinical practice, learners – including but not limited to those who have had personal exposure – may experience discomfort, triggering, disturbing thoughts, or re-traumatization in the course of these and similar continuing education efforts. Those whose lives have been affected directly by abuse or by interacting with this educational material are urged to seek support from a community-based direct service organization, a confidential hotline, or from a trusted colleague, therapist, or other source.

    Target Audience

    Physicians and other healthcare professionals required to take related Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence training and others interested in this topic.

    Learning Objectives

    • Summarize the incidence, prevalence, and spectrum of Domestic Violence (DV) and Sexual Violence (SV);
    • Articulate both risk and protective factors associated with DV and SV;
    • Describe physical and emotional symptoms and signs associated with experiencing DV and SV;
    • Identify immediate, short-term, and long-term health impacts of DV and SV;
    • Explain the behavioral dynamics of coercive control most commonly seen in those who perpetrate abuse;
    • Demonstrate sensitivity to challenges commonly encountered by individuals who face particular vulnerability related to personal or societal circumstances, including adolescents; elders; disabled individuals; people of color; immigrants; those living in or at risk of poverty, individuals with limited English proficiency, and those with diverse sexual preferences or gender expressions;
    • Describe the range of adverse effects seen in children who are exposed to or who witness DV or SV;
    • Explain the principles of trauma-informed care;
    • Illustrate how to inquire routinely in the clinical setting about DV and SV as components of violence and abuse across the lifespan;
    • Document patient disclosure and relevant physical findings in the medical record in a manner that underscores safety and confidentiality for the patient;
    • Respond to patient disclosure in a trauma-informed and culturally responsive manner;
    • Refer patients to appropriate practice-based and community-based services;
    • Arrange for appropriate follow-up, including comprehensive primary care;
    • Deal effectively with personal feelings and emotions that can arise when caring for traumatized individuals;
    • Articulate prevention strategies that can be implemented within clinical practice settings; and
    • Know how to pursue further educational and practice opportunities in the field.

    Additional Information

    Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS)
    Course summary
    Available credit: 
    • 3.00 MOC II
    • 3.00 ABMS MOC II
    • 3.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit
    Course opens: 
    Course expires: 
    Nonmember cost:
    Member cost:
    Student or Resident cost:
    Other Health Care Professionals cost:

    Elaine J. Alpert, MD, MPH, Author
    Elaine J. Alpert, MD, MPH trained in internal medicine and public health, and is an internationally respected scholar and consultant in family violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking with expertise and experience in trauma-informed care, interprofessional and innovative educational methods, and strengthening the health sector’s role in the coordinated community response to violence and abuse across the lifespan.

    The Founding Chair of the Massachusetts Medical Society Committee on Violence Intervention and Prevention, Dr Alpert is the lead author of Intimate Partner Violence: the Clinician’s Guide to Identification, Assessment, Intervention and Prevention (6th ediion, 2015), as well as Human Trafficking: A Guidebook on Identification, Assessment, and Response in the Health Care Setting (2014). She has authored numerous additional important articles, guidebooks, curricula, and book chapters about family violence, sexual assault and human trafficking for physicians and other health care providers and developed previous online continuing medical education about domestic and sexual violence for the Massachusetts Medical Society. She is the Massachusetts Medical Society representative to National Health Collaborative on Violence and Abuse where she is co-chair the Education, Communication and Outreach Committee, and serves on the Steering Committee. Dr. Alpert has also served on the U.S. Institute of Medicine Committee on the Training Needs of Health Professionals to Respond to Family Violence.

    Following a decades-long career at Boston University Medical Center as a general internist, medical educator, public health faculty member, and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, and an Associate Professorship appointment at Boston University School of Public Health, Dr. Alpert was awarded a 2009 Fulbright Fellowship to develop and teach interprofessional courses in violence prevention and in intervention planning for improving public health at the University of British Columbia (UBC) where she served as the Director of the Interpersonal Violence Prevention Program, and created the UBC Violence Intervention and Prevention (VIP) Connector. She also served as a consultant to the Division of Global Health and Human Rights at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston regarding their research and publications on human trafficking, and has engaged in on-site teaching, research and/or consulting in Asia, the Pacific Islands and Central America.  Dr. Alpert has received honors and awards from the American Medical Association, the Massachusetts Medical Society, and Futures Without Violence.

    Rebecca Lee, MD, Researcher/Reviewer
    Dr. Lee is a physician at Greater Lawrence Family Health Center. She finds the City of Lawrence extraordinarily committed to social justice and community empowerment. Her passions within medicine include homeless health, addiction medicine, family planning and global medicine.

    Dr. Lee attended Wesleyan University for undergraduate work, studying both chemistry and art. A summer in a Northern India village serving as a teacher and health educator inspired her work in public health and medicine. A graduate of Tufts University School of Medicine, she is deeply interested in community-focused healthcare. She spent one day a week during her first two years of medical school with the Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Street Team where she delved further into how best to care for the homeless population and those struggling with addiction.

    She co-founded the Student Coalition on Addiction, an organization focused on improving education on addiction in the health professions, advocating for better services & treatment availability at the city and state level, and promoting student involvement in community activism. Upon earning her medical degree, Dr. Lee received the Tufts University Presidential Award for Civic Life.   

    The Massachusetts Medical Society is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.  

    AMA Credit Designation Statement
    The Massachusetts Medical Society designates this internet enduring material for a maximum of 3.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

    This activity meets the criteria for the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine for risk management study.

    MOC Approval Statement
    Through the American Board of Medical Specialties ("ABMS") ongoing commitment to increase access to practice relevant Maintenance of Certification ("MOC") Activities through the ABMS Continuing Certification Directory , this activity has met the requirements as an MOC Part II CME Activity (apply toward general CME requirement) for the following ABMS Member Boards:

    Allergy and Immunology
    Colon and Rectal Surgery
    Family Medicine
    Medical Genetics and Genomics
    Nuclear Medicine
    Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
    Plastic Surgery
    Preventive Medicine
    Psychiatry and Neurology
    Thoracic Surgery

    National Commission on Certification of Physicians Assistant (NCCPA).
    Physician Assistants may claim a maximum of 3.00 Category 1 credits for completing this activity. NCCPA accepts AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ from organizations accredited by ACCME or a recognized state medical society.

    This education course meets the Massachusetts Department of Public Health approved Chapter 260 Training and Education in Sexual and Domestic Violence.

    A score of 70% or higher is required to receive AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.

    Available Credit

    • 3.00 MOC II
    • 3.00 ABMS MOC II
    • 3.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit


    Nonmember cost:
    Member cost:
    Student or Resident cost:
    Other Health Care Professionals cost:
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    This course is offered through Massachusetts Medical Society

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