Mandatory reporting of domestic violence injuries to the police: What do emergency department patients think?

Michael A. Rodríguez, Elizabeth McLoughlin, Gregory Nah, Jacquelyn C Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Context: Laws requiring mandatory reporting of domestic violence to police exist in 4 states. Controversy exists about the risks and benefits of such laws. Objective: To examine attitudes of female emergency department patients toward mandatory reporting of domestic violence injuries to police and how these attitudes may differ by abuse status. Design, Setting, and Participants: Cross-sectional survey conducted in 1996 of 1218 women patients (72.8% response rate) in 12 emergency departments in California (a state with a mandatory reporting law) and Pennsylvania (without such a law). Main Outcome Measures: Opposition to mandatory reporting to police and the characteristics associated with this belief. Results: Twelve percent of respondents (n=140) reported physical or sexual abuse within the past year by a current or former partner. Of abused women, 55.7% supported mandatory reporting and 44.3% opposed mandatory reporting (7.9% preferred that physicians never report abuse to police and 36.4% preferred physicians report only with patient consent). Among nonabused women, 70.7% (n=728) supported mandatory reporting and 29.3 % opposed mandatory reporting. Patients currently seeing/living with partners (odds ratio [OR], 1.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1-2.0), non-English speakers (OR, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.4-3.0), and those who had experienced physical or sexual abuse within the last year (OR, 2.2; 95% CI, 1.6-2.9) had higher odds of opposing mandatory reporting of domestic violence injuries. There were no differences in attitudes by location (California vs Pennsylvania). Conclusions: The efficacy of mandatory reporting of domestic violence to police should be further assessed; and policymakers should consider options that include consent of patients before wider implementation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)580-583
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the American Medical Association
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2001


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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