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47 Use of digital media to perpetrate intimate partner violence among emergency department patients
  1. Karisa Harland1,
  2. Corinne Peek-Asa2,
  3. Audrey Saftlas3
  1. 1US University of Iowa, Department of Emergency Medicine
  2. 2US University of Iowa, Department of Occupational and Environmental Health
  3. 3US University of Iowa, Department of Epidemiology


Statement of purpose Little is known about the extent to which digital media is used to perpetrate adult intimate partner violence (IPV). The purpose of this analysis is to examine the prevalence of digital media use by IPV status (positive/negative).

Methods/approach We conducted a cross-sectional survey of IPV experienced by adult emergency department patients seen at a Level 1 Trauma Centre from 11/2015–10/2016. The Abuse Assessment Screen (AAS) and the Women’s Experience of Battering (WEB) were used to screen for physical/sexual/threats of IPV and emotional/psychological IPV, respectively. A modified version of the Picard Tech Abuse in Relationships Report (2007) measured digital media use, and perpetration using digital media was assessed for each type of violence. Pearson’s chi-square test was used to examine differences in digital media use by IPV status.

Results Over 11% (132 of 1136) of patients were IPV-positive. IPV-positive patients reported higher prevalence of digital media use than IPV-negative patients, including receiving threating text messages from a partner (33% vs 3%, p<0.0001) and messages to ‘check-up’ on them (62% vs 26%, p<0.0001). Many more IPV-positive than IPV-negative patients felt scared after receiving ‘check-up’ messages (36% vs 2%, p<0.0001) or were afraid not to respond (34% vs 3%, p<0.0001). Text messaging to check-up on the victim was prevalent within the IPV subtypes examined: 62% of WEB+; 67% of current partner AAS+, and 75% of ex-partner AAS+.

Conclusion Digital media is frequently used to perpetrate IPV in this adult emergency department population. Interventions need to consider the use of digital technology as a means for IPV.

Significance/contribution to Injury and Violence Prevention Science To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine perpetration of IPV through digital media among adults. Our findings will guide development of new tools and interventions to prevent digital media violence.

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