ricula. Key competencies may be normatively derived at least in part, but research is needed to support these norms. The literature on teaching methods and provider behavior change is growing, but little research is available on family violence training specifically. The committee’s recommendations rely on the information available and underscore the need for extensive research.


Competency is the ability to perform a complex task or function (Lane and Ross, 1998) and is closely linked to behaviors used as performance indicators for the accomplishment of competence. Knowledge, skills, and behaviors to be achieved on a particular topic typically define competencies. Competencies are not meant to be static; as new evidence is developed and systems change, competencies evolve. There is then a dynamic between research, practice, and educational competencies. The goal in articulating competencies is to set the current standards regarding expectations for training and practice in a field. Performance indicators provide the means to gather evidence as to whether training and practice objectives are achieved and whether stated objectives affect outcomes. Evaluation of competencies provides a method for measuring success in terms of process, outcome measures, and scope of training. The knowledge, skills, and behaviors necessary for effective health professional response to family violence are not yet established, and existing proposals for core competencies in family violence have not yet been evaluated.

Because of the substantial prevalence of family violence victims in health care settings, basic knowledge of all forms of family violence is necessary for all health care professionals who provide patient services. Those who ignore family violence, blame victims, or believe they can make decision about what is “right” without consulting the victim can potentially do additional harm (Brandt, 1995; Short et al., 1998). Basic standardized competencies can provide a powerful means to continue the process of educating and evaluating the ability of health care professionals to provide care to persons, families, and communities in the complex area of family violence.

Health care professionals, however, vary in their roles and responsibilities and have different degrees and types of interaction with family violence victims. Thus, beyond basic literacy, the committee considers competency levels appropriate to different health care professionals based on variations in perceived needs.

Levels of Competence

Differentiating competency levels is a means of acknowledging generalist and specialist foci (Adger et al., 1999; American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 1999; Auslisio et al., 2000; Brandt, 1995). For example, the National

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