Domestic violence against women: Incidence and prevalence in an emergency department population



Objectives: A majority of women entering the hospital emergency departments and walk-in clinics in Sydney are likely to have a history of domestic violence. Domestic violence involves a physical injury, emotional and/or psychological threat by a male partner. The aim is to identify this group of women and to intervene early by referring them to counseling and other services.

Method: A prospective study was conducted to screen women of domestic violence who agreed to participate and who were accessing the Emergency Department during three months of the study period in May to July 2011. The validated Hurt Insult Threatening Screening tool (HITS) consisting of 4 questions was used. Data was analysed using descriptive statistics and two-group comparisons. The incidence and one month cumulative prevalence rates of DV were calculated with 95% confidence interval and correlates of DV were examined.

Results: Of 239 women in Sydney, who previously sought emergency care and completed the questionnaires, 102 (47%) had experienced threats or injuries from a current male partner in their lives. Physicians and nurses in emergency department failed to detect the history of domestic violence in women seeking treatment. Of the 239 women in the study with a male partner, 11.7% accessed the emergency room for acute domestic violence, but only 13% of these said they either told or were asked about domestic violence by the health practitioner.

Conclusion: The incidence of acute domestic violence is not as common among the women visiting the emergency department as previously reported. Although the cumulative prevalence of domestic violence is strikingly high, women who have experienced domestic violence are seldom identified by the emergency department professionals.


Full Text: PDF DOI: 10.5430/jnep.v2n4p145

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

Copyright © Sciedu Press 
To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.