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Journal Article

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Epidemiologic Perspectives & Innovations



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OBJECTIVE: A goal in intimate partner violence (IPV) research is to identify victims when they are treated in a hospital Emergency Department (ED) and predict which patients will sustain abuse again after discharge, so interventions can be targeted. Following patients to determine those prognostic factors is difficult, however, especially to study IPV given the risk to be assaulted if their partner learns of their participation. We assessed the feasibility of an automated telephone survey and a wireless incentive delivery system to follow ED patients after discharge, enabling detection of IPV recurrence.

METHODS: A four-week prospective cohort pilot study was conducted at an urban academic medical center ED in the U.S. Thirty patient subjects (24 women, 6 men; 18-54 years) who had sustained IPV in the past six months, 12 of whom presented for an acute IPV-related condition, were interviewed in the ED and were asked to report weekly for four weeks after discharge to a toll-free, password protected telephone survey, and answer recorded questions using the telephone keypad. A $10 convenience store debit card was provided as an incentive, and was electronically recharged with $10 for each weekly report, with a $20 bonus for making all four reports.

RESULTS: Twenty-two of 30 subjects (73.3%) made at least one report to the telephone survey during the four weeks following discharge; 14 of the 30 subjects (46.7%) made all four weekly reports. Each time the telephone survey was accessed, the subject completed all questions (i.e., no mid-survey break-offs). Eight months after follow-up ended, almost all debit cards (86.7%) had been used to make purchases.

CONCLUSION: Approximately three of every four subjects participated in follow-up after ED discharge, and approximately two of every four subjects completed all follow-up reports, suggesting the method of an automated telephone survey and wireless incentive delivery system makes it feasible to study IPV prospectively among discharged patients. That finding, along with evidence that IPV recurrence risk is high, suggests the protocol tested is warranted for use conducting full-scale studies of IPV. The protocol could benefit efforts to study other outcomes, especially when patient confidentiality is paramount for their safety.

Copyright/Permission Statement

© 2008 Wiebe et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Date Posted: 08 July 2016

This document has been peer reviewed.