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Keywords:

  • Access to care;
  • child abuse;
  • emergency medicine;
  • health disparities;
  • health services research

Abstract

Purpose: To characterize differences in child abuse management resources between urban and rural emergency departments (EDs).

Methods: We surveyed ED directors and nurse managers at hospitals in Oregon to gain information about available abuse-related resources. Chi-square analysis was used to test differences between urban and rural EDs. Multivariate analysis was performed to examine the association between a variety of hospital characteristics, in addition to rural location, and presence of child abuse resources.

Findings: Fifty-five Oregon hospitals were surveyed. A smaller proportion of rural EDs had written abuse policies (62% vs 95%, P= .006) or on-site child abuse advocates (35% vs 71%, P= .009). Thirty-two percent of rural EDs had none of the examined abuse resources (vs 0% of urban EDs, P= .01). Of hospital characteristics studied in the multivariate model, only rural location was associated with decreased availability of child abuse resources (OR 0.19 [95% CI, 0.05-0.70]).

Conclusions: Rural EDs have fewer resources than urban EDs for the management of child abuse. Other studied hospital characteristics were not associated with availability of abuse resources. Further work is needed to identify barriers to resource utilization and to create resources that can be made accessible to all ED settings.