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Prevalence and Severity of Intimate Partner Violence and Associations With Family Functioning and Alcohol Abuse in Psychiatric Inpatients With Suicidal Intent.[CME]

J Clin Psychiatry 2006;67:23-29

Background: Many medical settings have conducted screenings for domestic violence, but no study has assessed the prevalence and frequency of intimate partner violence (IPV) within the acute psychiatric inpatient population.

Method: This descriptive, cross-sectional study was conducted in adult inpatient acute care units at a psychiatric hospital. Participants completed questionnaire-based assessments of recent and lifetime history of IPV, family functioning, and alcohol use. Recruited patients were aged between 18 and 65 years, were English-fluent and literate, had suicidal ideation, and had been living with an intimate partner for at least the past 6 months. Acutely psychotic patients and patients who were too agitated to complete the questionnaires were excluded. 110 patients completed the assessments. Interpersonal violence was assessed using the Revised Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS2), family functioning was measured using the Family Assessment Device, and alcohol use was assessed with the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test. Data were gathered from August 2004 through February 2005.

Results: Over 90% of suicidal inpatients reported IPV perpetration and victimization in their relationships in the past year, with the overwhelming majority reporting severe IPV. Male and female patients did not differ significantly on any CTS2 violence perpetration or victimization subscale (all p values > .05). Poor family functioning predicted physical violence victimization in both male and female suicidal inpatients, even after controlling for alcohol use and demographic characteristics.

Conclusion: Psychiatric inpatients with suicidal ideation or intent would benefit from screening for IPV. Information about IPV and treatment options should be made available to psychiatric inpatients with suicidal intent. Attention to the family functioning of these patients is recommended.