A Prevalence Survey of Abuse and Screening for Abuse in Urgent Care Patients

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Abstract

Objective

To determine the prevalence of physical and sexual abuse in pregnant and nonpregnant women in an urgent care obstetrics and gynecology triage unit and the frequency with which these patients recall being screened by their health care provider.

Methods

We carried out a structured survey of 255 pregnant and 142 nonpregnant women presenting to an urban New England urgent care obstetrics and gynecology unit between February 1995 and September 1995. Patients in advanced stages of labor or unable to participate due to a language barrier were excluded. The survey consisted of 22 questions, seven of which were modified from the abuse assessment screen.

Results

Among 397 participants with complete data, we found that 184 (46%) reported a history of physical or sexual abuse in the past, and 38 (10%) reported recent abuse. Young age and insurance status (Medicaid or uninsured) were associated significantly with recent abuse after we controlled for race, education, and pregnancy status. Only 18% of women recalled being asked about abuse by a health care provider. Young women were more likely to report being asked about abuse. Among women reporting recent abuse, white women were significantly more likely to report being asked about abuse than nonwhite women (P = .02). The majority of women reporting a history of abuse did not recall being screened for violence by a health care provider.

Conclusion

Women of all ages, income, and ethnic backgrounds reported a history of domestic violence or sexual assault. Providers should incorporate routine screening into the assessment of all women.

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