Strengthening the family and domestic violence evidence base

Contributing to our strategic goal of ‘expert sources of value-added analysis'

Content warning: This release contains information some readers may find distressing as it refers to data about family, domestic and sexual violence.

If the information presented raises any issues for you, these services can help:

Family and domestic violence (FDV) encompasses violence that occurs between family members, and violence that occurs between intimate partners. Each year, there are around 6,500 hospitalisations for injuries known to be related to FDV.

The health system has an important role in responding to FDV. Hospitals can be a crucial intervention point in cases where FDV results in injuries requiring hospital treatment and care. However, we currently do not have a thorough understanding of FDV hospitalisations, particularly repeat hospitalisations, and patterns of broader hospital service use and death for people hospitalised for FDV.

With support from the Department of Social Services, we used the NIHSI AA to examine hospital use and deaths for people hospitalised for FDV from 2010–11 to 2018–19. This was the first time such a data linkage project had been undertaken.

Examination of hospital stays due to family and domestic violence 2010–11 to 2018–19 was published in December 2021. It found that:

  • Around 1 in 8 people who had an FDV hospital stay had at least one additional hospital stay for FDV, with almost 2 in 3 of these occurring within one year.
  • Around 1 in 5 people who had a FDV stay had multiple assault hospital stays (including both FDV and other assault).
  • People who had a FDV hospital stay had a higher rate of death and different causes of death than a comparison group.
  • The FDV group was 10 times as likely to die due to assault, 3 times as likely to die due to accidental poisoning or liver disease and 2 times as likely to die due to suicide as the comparison group.

This exploratory analysis was well received by experts, and funding to undertake additional analysis by Indigenous status and remoteness has been secured.

Further analysis could predict the risk factors for hospital re-admission for FDV, and explore the broader health service interactions that did, or did not, occur before an FDV-related death. The targeted collection of FDV data in some other national collections – for example, emergency departments – would help to provide a more comprehensive picture of service use by people experiencing FDV.