Emergency Department-Based Study of Risk Factors for Acute Injury From Domestic Violence Against Women

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Abstract

Study Objectives:

To evaluate the associations between selected socioeconomic risk factors and acute injury from domestic violence against women.

Methods:

We conducted a preliminary matched case-control study to measure the association of selected predictor variables with acute injury from domestic violence against women. Patients identified as cases were Hispanic or white female emergency department patients, 16 to 65 years of age, with acute injury sustained from physical assault by a intimate male partner. Cases were selected for inclusion in the study if they reported or admitted acute physical assault by their male partners. Controls were selected from non-case female ED patients so as to represent the base population of the cases and enhance comparability. Two controls were matched to each case. The socioeconomic predictor variables examined were the education level, employment status, history of alcohol abuse, and history of drug abuse of the male partner and the education level and cohabitation status of the female partner.

Results:

Forty-six cases were identified and included in the study. The age range was 16 to 51 years (mean, 33 years). There were 26 (57%) Hispanic and 20(43%) white cases. The strongest predictor for acute injury from domestic violence in these patients was a history of alcohol abuse by the male partner, as reported by the female partner (odds ratio, 12.9). The remaining predictor variables were weakly associated or not associated with domestic violence. One half of the cases stated that their male partners were intoxicated with alcohol at the time of assault.

Conclusion:

Of the socioeconomic variables examined in this preliminary study, a history of alcohol abuse by the male partner, as reported by the female partner, was the strongest predictor for acute injury from domestic violence. A large-scale, multicenter, ED-based study is needed to clarify the relation between alcohol abuse, other socioeconomic factors, and acute physical assaults against women by their intimate male partners.

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