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FOR RELEASE: January 27, 2000
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

Intimate Partner Violence Surveillance Planned by Health Officials

Many women refuse to admit that they are victims of domestic violence, especially intimate partner violence (IPV), for a variety of reasons, including fear and embarrassment. Yet, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) and the American Medical Association report that battering is the leading cause of injury to women ages 15 - 44 in the U.S., exceeding rapes, muggings, and motor vehicle crashes combined.

According to Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation statistics, the number of domestic violence reports in Oklahoma rose by 42 percent from 1989 to 1998. In 1998 alone, there were 21,435 incidents of domestic violence reported to police. Of these, 55 were for murder, 317 for sex crimes, 5,609 for assault, and 15,454 (72 percent) were for assault and battery. Nearly 88,000 Oklahoma women and children sought shelter or crisis intervention from 1993 to 1997.

"Intimate partner violence is a public health issue because it affects the individual, children, entire families and communities," said State Health Commissioner J.R. Nida, M.D. He said the OSDH has received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct IPV injury surveillance in Oklahoma. "We're hopeful that this program will help us determine the prevalence of IPV in Oklahoma and the extent of injuries resulting in hospital treatment."

About 95 percent of victims of domestic violence are women. Nationally, an estimated two million to four million American women are battered by their husbands or intimate partners each year; about 25 percent of women visiting hospital emergency rooms are there due to injuries sustained as a result of domestic violence.

Beginning July 2000, the OSDH will collect data from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, hospital medical records departments and emergency departments for persons treated in Oklahoma City metropolitan hospitals or who died as a result of IPV injuries. The number, types, and severity of injuries; circumstances; and demographic factors will be documented and monitored. The surveillance program will also include a self-report telephone survey conducted by the OSDH Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to determine the rate at which IPV occurs in the general female population.

"These data will be analyzed to identify ways that health care professionals and others can effectively intervene to help persons suffering from domestic violence," Nida said.

As part of the program, the OSDH will begin providing training in April this year to hospital staff on such issues as: screening for IPV in emergency departments, recognizing IPV injuries, assessing patient safety, referral, documentation, and case reporting. Curricula will include training materials from the Physicians for a Violent-Free Society. Registration for these training conferences will be free. For more information, contact Sheryll Brown, Injury Prevention Service, 405/271-3430.

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