Background: Although the rate of death from injuries due to violent acts is much higher among black women than among white women in the United States, little is known about the nature and correlates of violent injuries among black women living in urban areas.
Methods: In this case-control study conducted at three emergency departments in one inner-city community (in west Philadelphia), we studied 405 adolescent girls and women who had been intentionally injured and 520 adolescent girls and women (control subjects) who had health problems not related to violent injury. Data were collected by conducting standardized interviews with use of questionnaires and by screening urine for illicit drugs. Individual logistic-regression models were constructed to identify factors associated with violent injuries inflicted by partners and those inflicted by persons other than the partners of the victims.
Results: The male partners of the injured women were much more likely than the male partners of control subjects to use cocaine (odds ratio, 4.4; 95 percent confidence interval, 2.3 to 8.4) and to have been arrested in the past (odds ratio, 3.1; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.8 to 5.2). Fifty-three percent of violent injuries to the women had been perpetrated by persons other than their partners. Women's use of illicit drugs and alcohol abuse were factors associated with both violence on the part of partners and violence on the part of other persons. Neighborhood characteristics, including low median income, a high rate of change of residence, and poor education, were independently associated with the risk of violent injuries among women.
Conclusions: Women in this urban, low-income community face violence from both partners and other persons. Substance abuse, particularly cocaine use, is a significant correlate of violent injuries. Standard Census data may help identify neighborhoods where women are at high risk for such violence and that would benefit from community-level interventions.