Drinking and Intimate Partner Violence Severity Levels Among U.S. Ethnic Groups in an Urban Emergency Department

Acad Emerg Med. 2019 Aug;26(8):897-907. doi: 10.1111/acem.13706. Epub 2019 Mar 7.


Background: Emergency departments (EDs) provide care to ethnically diverse populations with multiple health-related risk factors, many of which are associated with intimate partner violence (IPV). This paper examines ethnic-specific 12-month rates of physical IPV by severity and their association with drinking and other sociodemographic and personality correlates in an urban ED sample.

Methods: Research assistants surveyed patients at an urban ED regarding IPV exposure as well as patterns of alcohol and drug use, psychological distress, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and other sociodemographic features.

Results: The survey (N = 1,037) achieved an 87.5% participation rate. About 23% of the sample reported an IPV event in the past 12 months. Rates were higher (p < 0.001) among blacks (34%), whites (31%), and multiethnic (46%) respondents than those among Asians (13%) and Hispanics (15%). Modeled results showed that black respondents were more likely than Hispanics (reference) to report IPV (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.69, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.98-2.66, p < 0.05) and that respondents' partner drinking was associated with IPV (AOR = 1.85, 95% CI = 1.25-2.73, p < 0.01) but respondents' drinking was not. Use of illicit drugs, younger age, impulsivity, depression, partner problem drinking, ACEs, and food insufficiency were all positively associated with IPV.

Conclusions: There was considerable variation in IPV rates across ethnic groups in the sample. The null results for the association between respondents' drinking and IPV was surprising and may stem from the relatively moderate levels of drinking in the sample. Results for ethnicity, showing blacks as more likely than Hispanics to report IPV, support prior literature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / ethnology*
  • Depression / ethnology
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence / ethnology*
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Partners
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / ethnology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires