Improving the emergency department detection rate of domestic violence using direct questioning

J Emerg Med. 2000 Aug;19(2):117-24. doi: 10.1016/s0736-4679(00)00204-3.


The purpose of this study was to compare the domestic violence (DV) rate identified with simple direct questioning to a historical cohort of patients receiving routine emergency department (ED) care. One thousand ED charts of female patients were retrospectively reviewed. Each patient in the prospective cohort was asked five DV specific questions. The historical cohort revealed a DV prevalence rate of 0.4%. The prospective study group of 302 patients identified 11 (3.6%) patients who admitted to acute DV on direct questioning. Ten of these patients accepted help. Twenty (6.6%) were identified as probable DV and 12 (4%) admitted to past violence. The total number of victims of DV, past, present, and probable was 43 (14.2%). This increase in detection from 0.4% (4/1000) to 14.2% (43/302) is significant at p < 0.001. Only 1.3% of patients refused to participate in the DV specific questions. The conclusion of the study indicated that the use of simple, direct questioning significantly improves the detection rate of DV in the ED.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Communication*
  • Domestic Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / standards*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Hospitals, Urban
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Medical History Taking
  • Middle Aged
  • Ontario / epidemiology
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires