Reports of Police Calls for Service as a Risk Indicator for Intimate Partner Violence

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Abstract

Objectives

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the utility of asking female emergency department (ED) patients about police calls for service as a possible indicator of intimate partner violence (IPV).

Methods

Trained research assistants screened female, adult, English-speaking patients presenting to an urban university ED 7AM to midnight, 7 days per week during the 2006–2007 academic year. Patients were asked two commonly used IPV screening questions regarding past-year experience with physical violence or threat by an intimate partner and whether or not the police had been called due to a fight between themselves and a male partner.

Results

Of the 4,984 patients screened, 3.9% screened positive for an IPV-related police call in the past 12 months; more than one-third (37.8%) of those screened negative for IPV on the traditional screening questions. The question about an IPV-related police call for service identified an additional 74 cases of possible IPV, representing 1.5% of the overall sample or a 30.8% increase over those identified with the traditional IPV screening questions.

Conclusions

Adding an additional question regarding police calls to standard IPV screening could alert healthcare providers to possible IPV risk.

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