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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Co-Occurrence of Multiple Risk Factors and Intimate Partner Violence in an Urban Emergency Department


Introduction: Urban emergency departments (ED) provide care to populations with multiple health-related and overlapping risk factors, many of which are associated with intimate partner violence (IPV). We examine the 12-month rate of physical IPV and its association with multiple joint risk factors in an urban ED.

Methods: Research assistants surveyed patients regarding IPV exposure, associated risk factors, and other sociodemographic features. The joint occurrence of seven risk factors was measured by a variable scored 0–7 with the following risk factors: depression; adverse childhood experiences; drug use; impulsivity; post-traumatic stress disorder; at-risk drinking; and partner’s score on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test. The survey (N = 1037) achieved an 87.5% participation rate.

Results: About 23% of the sample reported an IPV event in the prior 12 months. Logistic regression showed that IPV risk increased in a stepwise fashion with the number of present risk factors, as follows: one risk factor (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] [3.09]; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.47-6.50; p<.01); two risk factors (AOR [6.26]; 95% CI, 3.04-12.87; p<.01); three risk factors (AOR = 9.44; 95% CI, 4.44-20.08; p<.001); four to seven risk factors (AOR [18.62]; 95% CI, 9.00-38.52; p<001). Ordered logistic regression showed that IPV severity increased in a similar way, as follows: one risk factor (AOR [3.17]; 95% CI, 1.39-7.20; p<.01); two risk factors (AOR [6.73]; 95% CI, 3.04-14.90; p<.001); three risk factors (AOR [10.36]; 95%CI, 4.52-23.76; p<.001); four to seven risk factors (AOR [20.61]; 95% CI, 9.11-46.64; p<001).

Conclusion: Among patients in an urban ED, IPV likelihood and IPV severity increase with the number of reported risk factors. The best approach to identify IPV and avoid false negatives is, therefore, multi-risk assessment.

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