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Am J Prev Med. 2000 Nov;19(4):308-15.

Improving surveillance of intimate partner violence by use of multiple data sources.

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  • 1Department of Community Health, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA.



Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a significant public health problem in the United States. Estimates of incidence and prevalence vary widely, depending on the data source used. Combining information from different sources can enhance our understanding of IPV.


In this paper, we used 1998 data from the Rhode Island (RI) Department of Health Violence Against Women Public Health Surveillance System to describe the prevalence of IPV reported to police, the demographic characteristics and help-seeking efforts of women reporting IPV, and characteristics of IPV incidents. We used data from the 1998 RI Department of Health Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey to examine associations between health care use and health outcomes of victims and nonvictims of IPV, and to explore the correlates of IPV. We also discuss the use of both narrow and broad definitions of IPV.


Our findings show that the definition of IPV and the source used to identify IPV victims can produce a markedly different picture of IPV victims, and that combining information from different data sources can enhance our understanding of IPV. An important finding for health care providers is that IPV victims do not appear to be significantly different from nonvictims in their access to and utilization of routine health care, and that more than 60% of victims at highest risk for injury reported seeing a health care provider because of IPV.


Our findings underscore the importance of health care providers addressing IPV and its consequences among their patients.

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