UNLABELLED: To explore the characteristics of individuals who were evaluated and treated at an urban university medical center emergency room due to violence-related injuries. The study also explored issues of religion and/or spirituality.
METHODS: Seventy-three violently injured patients (VIPs) who required hospitalization were systematically interviewed for this study while seeking treatment through the emergency department at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. The interviews were conducted by the emergency room (ER) chaplain. More than one-third (38%) of these VIPs had previously been arrested for assault. For more than half (52%), this was their first experience with emergency care for a violent injury, while nearly half (48%) reported previous experience with violence. Sixty-two percent of the patients said they vowed to get revenge. Gunshot wounds accounted for almost half (45%) of the injuries. This report provides descriptive data about the characteristics of VIPs who required hospital care after a violence-related attack, the context of the event and provides data about how spirituality/religion issues were used to cope with the aftermath of these attacks. The cycle of violence clearly calls for interventions and solutions involving hospitals and the community.