Departmental Papers (SPP)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

April 2008


Study objective: Recent systematic reviews have noted a lack of evidence that screening for intimate partner violence does more good than harm. We assess whether patients screened for intimate partner violence on a computer kiosk in the emergency department (ED) experienced any adverse events during or subsequent to the ED visit and whether computer kiosk identification and referral of intimate partner violence in the ED setting resulted in safety behaviors or contact with referrals.

Methods: We conducted a prospective, observational study in which a convenience sample of male and female ED patients triaged to the waiting room who screened positive (on a computer kiosk-based questionnaire) for intimate partner violence in the past year were provided with resources and information and invited to participate in a series of follow-up interviews. At 1-week and 3-month follow-up visits, we assessed intimate partner violence, safety issues, and use of resources. In addition, to obtain an objective measure of safety, we assessed the number of violence-related 911 calls to participant addresses within a call district 6 months before and 6 months after the index ED visit.

Results: Of the 2,134 participants in a relationship in the last year, 548 (25.7%) screened positive for intimate partner violence. No safety issues, such as calling security or a partner’s interference with the screening, occurred during the ED visit for any patient who disclosed intimate partner violence. Of the 216 intimate partner violence victims interviewed in person and 65 contacted by telephone 1 week later, no intimate partner violence victims reported any injuries or increased intimate partner violence resulting from participating in the study. For the sample in the local police district, there was no increase in the number of intimate partner violence victims who called 911 in the 6 months after the ED visit. Finally, 35% (n131) reported they had contacted community resources during the 3-month follow-up period.

Conclusion: Among patients screening positive for intimate partner violence, there were no identified adverse events related to screening, and many had contacted community resources.


Postprint version. Published in Annals of Emergency Medicine, Volume 51, Issue 4, April 2008, pages 433-442.
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Date Posted: 08 May 2008

This document has been peer reviewed.