Population-Level Epidemiology of Concussion Concurrent with Domestic Violence in Arizona, USA

Rachel K. Rowe, Sean M. Murphy, Hirsch Handmaker, Jonathan Lifshitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Domestic violence (DV) is a chronic societal epidemic that often involves physical assault to the head, neck, and face, which increases the risk of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) in DV victims. However, epidemiological data on the extent of TBI-DV at the population scale remain sparse. We performed a statewide, multi-institution, retrospective review of all medical records for patients diagnosed with a concussion, the most common type of TBI, at health care facilities in Arizona, USA, that were licensed by Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) during 2016-2018. De-identified records were extracted from discharge data reported to ADHS, which we decoded and transformed to spatiotemporal demographic data of patients who were diagnosed with concussion concurrent with DV. Among 72,307 concussion diagnoses, 940 were concurrent with DV. Sixteen patients died as a result of TBI-DV injuries, where TBI is defined as concussion. Although females were most of the TBI-DV diagnoses, median ages for males and females were 1 and 32 years, respectively, demonstrating that males were predominantly child abuse victims. Whites and Hispanics were victims most diagnosed with concussion and DV, but Native Americans and Blacks comprised a much greater proportion of diagnoses compared with the representative state demographics. Although likely underreported, approximately half of the cases were inflicted by intimate partners, which corresponded closely to marital status. Surprisingly, 61% of victims sought medical treatment for non-concussion injuries and then concussion was entered as a primary diagnosis. The demographic and health care facility disparities demand TBI/concussion screening in suspected DV patients, education and training of care providers, and potential redistribution of resources to select health care facilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2301-2310
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 15 2021


  • abusive head trauma
  • child abuse
  • concussion
  • domestic violence
  • epidemiology
  • interpersonal violence
  • intimate partner violence
  • traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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