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West J Med. 1991 Aug;155(2):133-5.

Domestic violence. Risk factors and outcomes.

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Department of Epidemiology and Biostatics, University of California, School of Medicine, San Francisco 94105.


Domestic violence is a pervasive and frequently unrecognized cause of injury among women. We reviewed data from standardized interviews with 218 women who presented to an emergency department with injuries due to domestic violence. Victims ranged in age from 16 to 66 years and constituted a wide range of socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds. Domestic violence often resulted in severe injury; 28% of the women interviewed required admission to hospital for injuries, and 13% required major surgical treatment. The typical presentation was injuries to the face, skull, eyes, extremities, and upper torso. A third of the cases involved a weapon, such as a knife, club, or gun. In all, 10% of the victims were pregnant at the time of abuse, and 10% reported that their children had also been abused by the batterer. Most victims (86%) had suffered at least one previous incident of abuse, and about 40% had previously required medical care for abuse. Victim recognition and referral to appropriate agencies could be improved if primary care physicians were more aware of the prevalence, severity, frequency of occurrence, and typical presentation of domestic violence.

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