A dual-method approach to identifying intimate partner violence within a Level 1 trauma center

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious public health problem leading many health care organizations to recommend universal screening as part of standard health care practice. Prior work shows that most IPV victims and perpetrators are unidentified by health care staff. We sought to enhance the capacity of an urban trauma center to identify IPV using a dual-method screening tool, and to establish prevalence of IPV victimization and perpetration among this population.

METHODS

Patients aged 18 and older were recruited from a Level 1 trauma center from May 2015 to July 2017. Participants were assessed for IPV using a touch-screen tablet and then via face-to-face assessment. The data were used to determine feasibility of this dual method and to establish prevalence of IPV in this sample.

RESULTS

Of 586 eligible patients, 250 were successfully recruited for the study (43% response rate). Using the subscales of physical abuse, severe psychological abuse, and sexual coercion from the tablet-based Conflict Tactics Scale 2, 40% of women and 34% of men met criteria for IPV exposure in the past year and 35.6% of men and 50.6% of women met criteria using the face-to-face screen. In total, 102 patients (40.8%) screened positive using the dual method.

CONCLUSION

This study reports on a dual method to improve screening and identification of IPV in a Level 1 trauma center. Ultimately, the dual screening method identified more victims than either method on its own. Our findings provide evidence to standardize universal screening in our trauma center. Moving forward, we will link screening results to medical record data to identify predictors of patients’ current experiences of psychological and physical IPV. Our ultimate goal is to use these predictors to build a model for identifying patients who are at high risk for IPV victimization or perpetration.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE

Epidemiologic study, level III.

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