Universal screening for intimate partner violence in the emergency department: importance of patient and provider factors

Ann Emerg Med. 1999 Jun;33(6):669-75. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(99)70196-4.


Study objective: Screening for intimate partner violence has been widely advocated in the health care setting, but efforts to assess effectiveness and ensure adequacy of universal screening are largely untested. We sought to identify barriers to screening of female emergency department patients for intimate partner violence during the first year of implementation of a screening protocol.

Methods: A retrospective, structured medical chart review of 1,638 randomly identified visits included demographic factors of age, race, marital status, employment status, insurance status, arrival mode, mechanism of presenting complaint, severity of condition, presentation time, and nurse gender. The study was conducted an an inner-city Level I trauma center with 43,000 annual ED visits and universal procedures for screening for intimate partner violence in place since February 1994. The participants were a cohort of 1,509 female patients, 18 years of age or older, who were discharged from the ED between July 1994 and June 1995. The main outcome measure was the odds of being screened as a function of patient and provider variables. Statistical analyses involved univariate and multivariate logistic regression on screening rates (Yes/No) as derived from universal screening instrument variables.

Results: Of 1,638 records reviewed, 483 patients (29.5%) were screened for intimate partner violence. Univariate analyses revealed that women presenting with nonpsychiatric, less acute complaints and those who presented during daylight hours were more likely to be screened than women who presented with psychiatric or more acute complaints, or during the night shift. Male and female nurse providers were equally likely to screen for intimate partner violence. Step-down multivariate analyses agreed with these findings.

Conclusion: In this random sample of female patients, screening rates varied by severity of the patient's condition, type of presenting complaint, and presentation time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Emergency Treatment / methods*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Urban
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Pennsylvania
  • Personnel, Hospital / psychology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Spouse Abuse / diagnosis*
  • Spouse Abuse / psychology*
  • Time Factors
  • Trauma Centers