Featured Doctor


Israel- Co-convenor SIG Family Violence

Dr Hagit Dascal-Weichhendler (Israel) is one of two new co-convenors of the WONCA Special Interest Group on Family Violence, appointed in Rio in 2016.

What work do you do at present?

I work full time as a clinician with a mixed population in Northern Israel, at Clalit Health Services Haifa and West Galillee District. Our district serves over 740,000 patients from multiple cultural backgrounds. Since 2001 I'm the chairperson of the committee on Family Violence (FV) which provides training, educational materials counselling and support to staff on FV cases. I spend hours a week talking with staff on cases of suspected or known child abuse/elder abuse/intimate partner violence.

As a teacher in the Haifa Department of Family Medicine (Clalit Health Services, and Rappaport School of Medicine, Technion) I train Family Medicine residents and medical students. I developed and teach a mandatory semester course on FV for Residents, as well as an elective semester course for Medical Students.

What interesting things have you done in the past?

I wrote guidelines on family violence for the Israeli Association of Family Medicine; introduced questions on the topic into residency exams; participated in the development of a national simulation based educational program on FV. As a member of the Ministry of Health Committee on FV, I put an emphasis on the importance of connecting between health providers in the field and policy makers, highlighting the needs of patients and staff around this issue.

My main research interests include educational interventions on FV for health care staff and tools for evaluation of training; FV health consequences and health care costs.

Since 2006 I have been part of the European group on Family Violence; participated in founding the WONCA SIG on FV, and presented in several WONCA conferences and in the groups' pre-conferences.

What are your hopes in this role as co-convenor of the WONCA SIG on Family Violence?

As physicians we have an important role both with our individual patients affected by FV, as well as leading change in our societies. I believe exchange of ideas and information among us is a "growth factor" for all of us. Such exchange as well as collaboration with other WONCA networks as well as with the Young Doctors movements has a pivotal role in promoting our goals.

My hopes that our SIG continues to:

- Raise awareness to FV and it's huge impact on health and society among WONCA members and primary care staffs around the world.

- Promote training on all forms of FV - making tools for learning about the topic readily available for all staff on-line, as well as continuing to present workshops at various WONCA conferences. In the long term we should thrive to make FV training mandatory for all health personnel all over the world.

- Promote inter-agency collaborative care which is crucial for treating FV affected individuals and families

- Research on FV & Health care which takes into account real life – primary care/society condition – our SIG members are in unique positions to promote this type of research, and further collaboration in this area is very important.

Your interests inside and outside medicine?

In the last years, after a tragic family experience, my interest in the topic of "How we (doctors) think" and how to prevent diagnostic errors has grown. I have given a workshop on this last year in WONCA Europe in Copenhagen with my colleague Dr Shelly Rothschild, and some workshops in Israel. I believe this is one of the most important but neglected areas in our training at all levels. Currently I am involved in a research project which combines my two interests: family violence, and diagnostic thinking.

Besides medicine I enjoy being with my family, music, reading, walking, swimming, and I especially love the sea.