Crime & Justice Policy

Intimate Partner Violence and Controlling Behaviors Experienced by Emergency Department Patients: Differences by Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification

Harland, K.K.; Peek-Asa, C.; Saftlas, A.F.


The objective of this study was to estimate the prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) in an emergency department (ED) by sexual orientation and gender identification. We conducted a cross-sectional survey of adult patients ( n = 1,136) presenting to a Level I Trauma Center ED from November 2015 to November 2016. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to estimate the adjusted odds ratio (aOR) of reporting any IPV or IPV subtypes (physical or sexual IPV or battering) by sexual orientation and gender identification, controlling for confounders. Overall, 11.6% (132 / 1,136) of those surveyed were IPV positive. The prevalence of IPV was significantly higher in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) patients than in heterosexuals (18.3% vs. 10.8%, p = .0151); prevalence was highest among bisexuals (21.6%) and gay men (18.5%). IPV prevalence did not differ significantly in females versus males (13.5% vs. 9.2%, p = .0872). After controlling for age, the odds of reporting any IPV was highest among females (aOR = 1.67; 95% confidence interval [CI] = [1.10, 2.53]); no significant differences were found by sexual orientation. Gay patients (aOR = 5.50; 95% CI = [1.60, 18.94]) and females (aOR = 2.70; 95% CI = [1.46, 9.99]) had significantly higher odds of reporting physical or sexual IPV than heterosexuals and males, respectively. The study is among the first to report IPV prevalence by sexual orientation in an ED patient population. The reported IPV was higher among LGBTQ patients than heterosexual patients although this relationship diminished when controlling for covariates. These data begin to define the scope of IPV among LGBTQ ED patients and may be used to inform brief interventions to reduce the IPV-related morbidity experienced by ED patients.