Dentists have a unique opportunity to detect exposure to violence

Anyone who is exposed to violence in an intimate relationship should be able to receive the best possible treatment from the professional groups that are supposed to provide support. That was the reason why the government decided that knowledge about men's violence against women and violence in intimate partner relationships should be a degree objective in, among other things, dental education.

–We call all children and young people up to the age of 23 and meet adults who are or may have been exposed to violence. In order for us to be able to take care of our patients in a good way, it is important to look at their entire social situation, says Therese Kvist, who built up the work on the new degree goal for the dental program at Karolinska Institutet.

When the degree objective knowledge of men's violence against women and violence in intimate relationships was introduced in July 2018, the Karolinska Institute had begun the work of remaking the entire undergraduate education in the dental program. They succeeded in getting the new degree target to be 4.5 higher education credits interspersed in several courses, as a red thread throughout the education, in the course Professional development during all five years of the education.

–The fact that we reworked the entire education meant that we didn't have to push the new degree goal into existing courses, which I think was very good. Now we were able to create a course from scratch and ensure that this degree goal was given the necessary space. Existing courses are often fully booked from the start and it is difficult to get something new in.

According to Therese Kvist, the knowledge of violence cannot be grazed in half a day, but requires more work. The future dentists need to work on the issue, learn how it works in order to then be able to implement the knowledge in their profession and use it clinically.

What difficulties have you encountered?

–I think it has worked very well, we received a very good course evaluation from those who completed the first course. The students appreciate learning about violence.

Another working method that the Karolinska Institute has chosen is to invite various people who have professional knowledge of violence, such as social services and the police, so that they can talk about their work and share their experiences.

–Everyone who meets people in their profession needs to have knowledge about violence in close relationships, violence is a major social problem that affects public health. For us dentists, it is about understanding the cause of the patients' problems. What is behind, for example, the fear of dental care or the fact that a patient has difficulty coming to appointments that have been booked?

–We need to understand why a parent may not have the ability to take care of their children's oral hygiene, or their own. We need to ask questions to create understanding and find the reasons behind the problem.

The dental program at Karolinska Institutet also invests in training in professional communication and collaborates with psychologists to get guidance on how to ask questions about violence in a good way.

–It is important that one finds their own way of asking questions, takes time for the patient, listens and tries to understand what the problems are based on. Has the patient experienced trauma to the mouth and is this the event that creates dental fear?

–For us teachers on the course, it is important to help the students create professional security, which they need to be able to perform their profession.


Degree thesis on men's violence against women

The Istanbul Convention is an important background to the fact that on 1 July 2018 a new degree target was introduced in the Higher Education Ordinance to demonstrate knowledge of men's violence against women and violence in close relationships for seven educations at basic level: physiotherapist degree, law degree, medical degree, psychology degree, sociology degree, nursing degree and dental degree. As of 1 January 2019, the degree target was also introduced for the dental hygienist degree.

The Istanbul Convention and GREVIO's recommendations to Sweden: Preventive work

By ratifying the Istanbul Convention, Sweden has undertaken to provide support and assistance to all girls and women who are exposed to violence and to prevent, prosecute and abolish all forms of men's violence against women. The provisions under the second pillar of the convention deal with initiatives at all levels of society, for gender equality and against violence, both in the public and private sectors.

GREVIO's recommendations to Sweden are about ensuring that the whole of society can contribute to promoting gender equality and to detect and combat all forms of men's violence against women.

In order to better live up to the convention, GREVIO urges Sweden to, among other things:

Ensure education and training for all relevant professional groups

In order to be able to ask questions about violence and provide respectful treatment, everyone who may encounter victims of violence and perpetrators of violence in their professional role must receive mandatory and systematic training on men's violence against women.


Men's violence against women

Violence prevention work

Publication date: 28 July 2022

Last updated: 13 June 2024