Introduction: This study was conducted to explore the characteristics of intimate partner violence (IPV) victims whose visit was coded as IPV and the health care delivery system in emergency departments (ED). Methods: This study utilized a secondary data analysis of a national probability sample that comprised the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey for 1997 to 2001. Results: There were 111 coded ED visits of IPV victims 16 years or older (equivalent of 482,979 out of 4 million national visits for the 5-year study period). Women (94%), African Americans (35%), those 25 to 44 years of age (64%), and uninsured patients (38%) were significantly more likely to be categorized as an IPV visit (odds ratios 14, 1.9, 2.7, and 2.4, respectively) compared with non-IPV visits. Characteristics of the health care delivery system (region, metropolitan vs. non-metropolitan, type of hospital, and type of health care provider) were not associated with IPV. Discussion: Caution should be implemented when interpreting the study results because they represent only coded IPV visits in the emergency department. The study findings suggest the critical need to improve identification, documentation, and coding of IPV visits.
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