Characteristics of Youth Seeking Emergency Care for Assault Injuries
OBJECTIVE: To characterize youth seeking care for assault injuries, the context of violence, and previous emergency department (ED) service utilization to inform ED-based injury prevention.
METHODS: A consecutive sample of youth (14–24) presenting to an urban ED with an assault injury completed a survey of partner violence, gun/knife victimization, gang membership, and context of the fight.
RESULTS: A total of 925 youth entered the ED with an assault injury; 718 completed the survey (15.4% refused); 730 comparison youth were sampled. The fights leading to the ED visit occurred at home (37.6%) or on streets (30.4%), and were commonly with a known person (68.3%). Fights were caused by issues of territory (23.3%) and retaliation (8.9%); 20.8% of youth reported substance use before the fight. The assault-injured group reported more peer/partner violence and more gun experiences. Assault-injured youth reported higher past ED utilization for assault (odds ratio [OR]: 2.16) or mental health reasons (OR: 7.98). Regression analysis found the assault-injured youth had more frequent weapon use (OR: 1.25) and substance misuse (OR: 1.41).
CONCLUSIONS: Assault-injured youth seeking ED care report higher levels of previous violence, weapon experience, and substance use compared with a comparison group seeking care for other complaints. Almost 10% of assault-injured youth had another fight-related ED visit in the previous year, and ∼5% had an ED visit for mental health. Most fights were with people known to them and for well-defined reasons, and were therefore likely preventable. The ED is a critical time to interact with youth to prevent future morbidity.
- CTS —
- Conflict Tactics Scale
- ED —
- emergency department
- ISS —
- injury severity score
- OR —
- odds ratio
- RA —
- research assistant
- Accepted October 1, 2013.
- Copyright © 2014 by the American Academy of Pediatrics