CRG 47/16-17: The use of ambulance data to inform patterns and trends of alcohol and other drug misuse, self-harm and mental health in different types of violence

Report to the Criminology Research Advisory Council

The association between interpersonal violence, alcohol and drug use, self-harm, and mental health issues is under-explored, but understanding these relationships is important in uncovering effective points of intervention. This report analyses violence-related ambulance attendances in Victoria and Tasmania, differentiated by type of violence and by victim or aggressor of violence, as well as the co-occurrence of alcohol and drug use, self-harm, and mental health issues. The aim of the study was to investigate the potential for coded ambulance data to be used for surveillance of violence at a population level. The findings reveal that community violence (between non-family members) may be underestimated using existing data sources such as police data. Further, the study highlighted the complexity treating aggressors of violence, as these incidents frequently involve mental health issues, alcohol or drug use and self-harm. The findings demonstrate the utility of ambulance data for surveillance of interpersonal violence.