Intimate partner violence and mental health symptoms in African American female ED patients

Am J Emerg Med. 2006 Jul;24(4):444-50. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2005.12.026.


Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) victims often seek care in the ED, whether for an injury from abuse or other sequelae such as mental health symptoms.

Objectives: The objective of the study was to assess whether depressive symptoms, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and suicidality were associated with physical, sexual, or emotional IPV in African American female ED patients and to determine if experiencing multiple types of abuse was associated with increased mental health symptoms.

Methods: All eligible African American female patients were approached in the ED waiting room during study periods. Patients participated in the screening process via a computer kiosk. Questions regarding IPV and mental health symptoms were asked using validated tools.

Results: In this prospective cohort, 569 participated and 36% of those in a relationship in the past year (n=461) disclosed that there were victims of IPV in the past year. In the past year, 22% experienced recent physical abuse, 9% recent sexual abuse, and 32% recent emotional abuse. A Pearson correlation was conducted and showed that all mental health symptoms were positively correlated with each type of IPV and each type of mental health symptom category. Mental health symptoms increased significantly with amount of abuse: depression (odds ratio [OR], 5.9 for 3 types of abuse), PTSD (OR, 9.4 for 3), and suicidality (OR, 17.5 for 3).

Conclusions: Emotional, sexual, and physical IPV were significantly associated with mental health symptoms. Each type of abuse was independently associated with depression, suicidality, and PTSD. Experiencing more than 1 type of abuse was also correlated with increased mental health symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Mental Health
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychological Tests
  • Spouse Abuse / ethnology
  • Spouse Abuse / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / ethnology*
  • Suicide / ethnology
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*