Assault-related injuries reported to police and treated by healthcare providers in the United States

Assault-related injuries reported to police and treated by healthcare providers in the United States

By: Alexandra de Leon Date: May 10th, 2022

A new study by the University of Washington Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center looks at differences between assault-related injuries reported to police and treated by healthcare providers.

Using the National Crime Victimization Survey, researchers looked at over 5000 nonfatal victimizations in the U.S. that caused injury and were reported to police and/or treated by health professionals from 1993 to 2019. The study found the number and nature of assault-related injuries reported to law enforcement differed significantly from those treated by healthcare providers. Violence involving injuries reported to the police or treated by healthcare most likely involved both services, but when only service was involved, a police report was more likely than healthcare treatment.

“Police and healthcare data provide key insights into the epidemiology of violent injury, but each data source has unique limitations because they depend on people using police and healthcare services after injury,” says HIPRC trainee and lead researcher Keith Hullenaar, PhD, . “Thus, the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control endorse the Cardiff Model for Violent Prevention.”

The Cardiff model develops information-sharing partnerships between police and healthcare providers, through which police and healthcare data on violent injuries are linked to create a more comprehensive picture of violence.

“One of the main purposes of the Cardiff Model is violence prevention. It’s important to note the effectiveness does depend on joint police, health, municipality violence prevention boards which deploy prevention resources on the basis of these surveillance data,” says Jonathan Shepherd, PhD, Emeritus Professor, Crime and Security Research Institute at Cardiff University.

This study is one of the first to study these associations, efforts to link police and healthcare data are recommended.

This study was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (5T32HD057822–11). It was published May 2022 in the Journal of Preventative Medicine.

The investigators represented the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center (HIPRC); the Departments of Epidemiology at the UW School of Public Health; the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; the Departments of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine and Pediatrics at the UW School of Medicine.

Figure 1: Rates of Violent Victimizations Involving Injuries Reported to Police or Treated by Healthcare, by Type of Service and Injury.
K.L. Hullenaar et al.