Hospital database of serious injuries can be used to identify domestic violence and abuse, finds study

Domestic violence and abuse (DVA) could be identified in the future using an already established national database of serious injuries, according to new University of Bristol-led research. The pilot study, published in Injury Prevention [26 May], develop

Domestic
violence and abuse (DVA) could be identified in the future using an already
established national database of serious injuries, according to new University
of Bristol-led research. The pilot study, published in Injury
Prevention
, developed a method to
identify DVA victim-survivors from hospital records.

It is
recognised that patients will present to hospital with injuries caused by
domestic violence and abuse. These are often injuries to a single part of the
body such as head injuries, facial injuries, or a fractured arm. However, until
now, there have been no published studies in the UK looking at the relationship
between multiple injuries in adults and DVA.

Researchers
from Bristol Medical School, CLARITY (Collaborative Ageing Research) group at
North Bristol NHS Trust, and King’s College London wanted to pilot a way of
using the national database for trauma, the Trauma Audit and Research Network
(TARN), to assess whether people experiencing DVA could be found. Patients are
included in the database if they are admitted to hospital for longer than three
days, or to critical care, or die from their injuries. Everyone included has
either a severe single injury e.g. brain bleed, or multiple severe injuries.
This means that any person included in the database will have significant and
severe injuries that require hospital admission and treatment.

Using a
tailored search method, 10,102 records submitted to TARN by Southmead Hospital North Bristol
NHS Trust
, were looked at by the team. This covered seven years of
admission from 2012 to 2019. The researchers were able to identify 36 victims
of DVA, confirmed by a review of the paper notes. Importantly, the team were
able to assess the association of DVA with the person’s medical details, such
as showing that victim-survivors of DVA were more likely to be admitted to ITU.

Dr Hollie
Garbett, a Clinical Teaching Fellow at Bristol Medical School and in the
CLARITY research group, and the study’s lead author, said:

“Currently, no
routine screening or data collection occurs within hospital trauma pathways for
DVA. This study aimed to test a tailored search strategy to identify suspected
cases of DVA from a local hospital trauma database that can be applied to any
hospital or the national dataset to find possible DVA related injuries.

“Our
findings show that DVA-related injuries are present in patients with serious
injuries, and confirm that searching the TARN database is a feasible way to
help identify suspected cases of DVA. Future work is needed to further
understand this relationship on a national level.”

Read the paper

Domestic violence and injuries – prevalence and patterns: A pilot database study to identify suspected cases in a UK major trauma centre’ by Hollie Garbett et al
in Injury Prevention.