Domestic violence in the Emergency Department: 2. Detection by doctors and nurses

Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 1997 Jan;19(1):12-5. doi: 10.1016/s0163-8343(96)00121-1.


This study was conducted in 1991 and 1992 to determine the detection rates of domestic violence victims by doctors and nurses at the Emergency Department (ED) of Royal Brisbane Hospital, a major public hospital in Australia. The objective was to determine the outcome of an education program about domestic violence conducted in 1991 for doctors and nurses in the ED. As part of two case-control studies, the self-reports of those who disclosed domestic violence on a screening questionnaire were compared with the recording of domestic violence on each individual medical record. Subjects were drawn from two screening studies carried out 1 year apart which were conducted to assess the prevalence of domestic violence among attendees at the ED. An education program about domestic violence was conducted for doctors and nurses in the ED between the two screening studies. The examination of the medical records showed that detection rates of victims of domestic violence were unchanged between the two case-control studies. Both studies found that 50.0% of those who reported the experience of domestic violence within the 24 hours prior to index presentation, on the screening questionnaire in the prevalence studies, were recorded as such in their medical records. The low detection rates indicate the requirement for doctors and nurses to receive appropriate training to identify and record the psychosocial aspects of domestic violence victims. As well as training, referral systems need to be set in place to address the psychosocial aspects of domestic violence victims.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Service, Hospital* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Inservice Training
  • Male
  • Patient Care Team* / statistics & numerical data
  • Queensland / epidemiology
  • Spouse Abuse / diagnosis*
  • Spouse Abuse / psychology
  • Spouse Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Utilization Review