Investigating the prevalence of intimate partner violence victimisation in women presenting to the emergency department in suicidal crisis

Publication Name

EMA - Emergency Medicine Australasia


Objective: To investigate the prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) and frequency of victimisation questioning by hospital staff in women presenting to EDs for suicide-related complaints and injuries. Methods: A cross-sectional survey design was used to assess IPV and ED experiences among women with a recent (<18 months) suicide-related presentation to EDs within six Local Health Districts across New South Wales. Women aged 16 years and over, residing in participating health districts were recruited in-person by hospital staff, or via Facebook advertisements. Variables assessed included demographic characteristics, psychosocial assessment coverage and exposure to IPV (Composite Abuse Scale [Revised]-Short-Form). Binary logistic regression was used to test for independent associations between variables on victimisation questioning by hospital staff. Results: A total of 563 women completed questionnaires following presentation to the ED for a suicide attempt (n = 329; 58%) or suicide crisis (n = 234; 42%). Of these, 200 women (36%) reported IPV exposure in the 18 months prior and 141 women (25%) reported earlier lifetime victimisation. Of the 341 women with a history of IPV, 155 women (45%) were asked about victimisation by hospital staff. Younger age and lower socio-economic status were significantly associated with questioning (P = 0.03). Conclusion: Findings suggest a large proportion of women seeking support for suicide in the ED are affected by IPV, although few are asked about abuse experiences. Victimisation is associated with complex health issues and heightened mortality risk, which carry important implications for patient-care. Findings support routine ED screening and can be applied to stratify risk within IPV responses.

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