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Adolescent Dating Violence In the Pediatric Emergency Department—A Male Perspective

Monday, October 22, 2012
Versailles Ballroom (Hilton Riverside)
Brian Eugene Wagers, M.D., Michael A Gittelman, Wendy J Pomerantz and Berkeley L Bennett, Division of Emergency Medicine, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH

Purpose Studies have demonstrated that up to 56% of females are victims of adolescent dating violence (DV). It is recommended that the pediatric emergency department (PED) visit can serve as a unique opportunity to screen female teens for DV.    New literature supports that males may be victims of DV in rates equal to females.  Our study will determine the prevalence of male teens presenting to a Midwestern PED who screen positive for DV and will determine risk factors, types of injuries sustained and the desire for social service referral from those screening positive.

Methods A prospective screening study of 13-21 year old males presenting to a PED for any chief complaint were enrolled.  Exclusions included: never dated, non-English speaking, critically ill, active psychosis, or caregiver non-willingness to leave during study participation.  152 participants were recruited by random cluster to approximate a true sample.  A computerized survey was completed by participants consisting of: demographics, a validated DV screen, and a risk factor assessment.  At completion, all participants received DV educational materials and were asked if they would like to speak with a social worker regarding their violence exposure.

Results 152/200 (76%) of those approached and met inclusion criteria were enrolled.  Reasons for declination included: 27 (13.5%) not interested, 12 (6%) too ill, 8 (4%) for parental involvement.  The mean age of participants was 16.1 years (SD 2.2 years), with 91 (60%) Caucasian and 61 (40%) African-American.  122 (80%) reported having a primary care doctor and 61 (40%) admitted to having DV education in the past.  30 (20%) enrollees screened positive for DV.  The mean age of those screening positive was 17 years (SD 2.2 years).  Risk factors for those who screened positive included: 71 (47%) admitted to being involved in physical altercations with others, 10 (7%) endorsed riding in a car with a dating partner who was driving under the influence and 68 (45%) admitted to drinking alcohol.  15 (50% of those positive for DV) sought care in the PED for DV related complaints and only 2 (6.7%) desired social service intervention.  The most common injuries sustained as a result of DV were scratches or scrapes (73%).  Of note, no mental trauma was endorsed by any male who screened positive for DV.

 Conclusion Our study shows a smaller DV prevalence in males compared to previous studies of women or males in larger cities.  Injuries sustained were mild and did not require formal medical care.  Many organizations have suggested screening all females for DV in the PED setting, this study questions if males should be screened given the small prevalence and minor injuries sustained.