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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Double jeopardy: Predictors of elevated lethality risk among intimate partner violence victims seen in emergency departments

  • Author(s): Brignone, L
  • Gomez, AM
  • et al.

© 2017 Elsevier Inc. Many intimate partner homicide victims visit emergency departments (EDs) prior to their deaths, yet their lethality risk is not well understood. eHealth interventions for intimate partner violence (IPV) improve provider information, tailor care to victim need and link victims to services. We analyzed ED patients’ lethality risk using one such intervention, Domestic Violence Report and Referral (DVRR). DVRR records were assessed for 263 female patients aged 16 and older seen for IPV at an urban, high-traffic, Northern California ED in 2014–15. Multiple linear regression was used to test the association of children's presence at home, pregnancy, age, and abuser-victim relationship with victim's lethality risk using the Danger Assessment (DA) score from the Lethality Risk Assessment for Intimate Partner Femicide. Differences in means were assessed using t- and F-tests. The mean DA score indicated high lethality risk, with a third of respondents (33.1%) reporting very high DA scores. Multiple linear regression models indicated that increasing victim age (β = 0.20/year; 95% CI: 0.11–0.29), children's presence at home (β = 2.61, 95% CI: 0.63–4.58), and perpetrator reported as dating partner (β = 4.50, 95% CI: 1.62–7.38) or ex-partner (β = 4.38, 95% CI: 1.10–7.66) were significantly associated with the DA score (p < 0.05). Use of DA scores as ED risk assessment tools in response to IPV victimization could help hospital staff and IPV advocates direct resources toward highest-need patients, improving health outcomes without additional burden on hospitals. These results also foreground eHealth interventions’ utility in linking providers and IPV advocates and reducing the risk of intimate partner homicide.

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