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Acad Emerg Med. 1996 Mar;3(3):246-51.

Domestic violence: diurnal mismatch between need and availability of services.

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Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, USA.



To determine whether a diurnal discordance exists between need and availability of services for victims of domestic violence.


A consecutive sample of women presenting to a municipal hospital ED with physical injuries suspected to be related to domestic violence were entered into a registry. Date and time of presentation and perceived need for services information were collected from all patients who answered affirmatively a screening question for domestic violence and whose conditions did not preclude administration of the data collection instrument. The Social Service Departments of all of the 53 911-receiving hospitals in New York City were contacted to ascertain availability of social services for victims of domestic violence by time of day.


Twenty-eight of 32 (88%; 95% CI: 71%, 97%) victims of domestic violence presented to the ED during hours other than weekday 9 AM to 5 PM. Of these, 63% desired counseling, 32% lacked a safe place to go, and 82% had children. Of those who had children, 48% were concerned for the children's safety. In-hospital social services were universally available weekday daytime (9 AM to 5 PM) but were available in only 11% of hospital (95% CI: 4%, 23%) at other times.


Approximately nine of ten victims of domestic violence presented to the ED during hours when only about one hospital in ten can provide the special services these patients require. A marked diurnal mismatch appears to exist between availability of domestic violence services in New York City and the need for these services as measured by a representative sample drawn from an ED population.

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