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Am J Prev Med. 2006 Jun;30(6):458-66.

Intimate partner violence and women's physical, mental, and social functioning.

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  • 1Center for Health Studies, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative, Seattle, Washington 98101, USA.



To describe the relationship between women's health and the timing, type, and duration of intimate partner violence (IPV) exposure.


A telephone interview was completed by 3429 women aged 18 to 64 randomly selected from a large health plan, to assess IPV exposure and heath status (response rate 56.4%). Questions from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and the Women's Experience with Battering scale were used to construct IPV exposures: (1) recent (past 5 years) and remote (before past 5 years only) IPV exposure of any type (physical, sexual, or non-physical); (2) recent (past 5 years) IPV exposure to physical and/or sexual or non-physical only; and (3) IPV duration (0 to 2 years, 3 to 10 years, and >10 years). Health outcomes were measured using the Short Form-36 survey (SF-36), the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale, and the National Institute of Mental Health Presence of Symptoms survey.


In adjusted models, compared to women with no IPV in their adult lifetime, more-pronounced adverse health effects were observed for women with recent (vs remote) IPV; for physical and/or sexual (vs non-physical) IPV; and for longer IPV exposure. Compared to women who never experienced IPV, women with any recent IPV (physical, sexual, or non-physical) had higher rates of severe (prevalence ratio [PR]=2.6; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.9-3.6) and minor depressive symptoms (PR=2.3; 95% CI=1.9-2.8); higher number of physical symptoms (mean, 1.0; 95% CI=0.7-1.2); and lower SF-36 mental and social functioning scores (range, 4.3-5.5 points lower across subscales). Women with recent physical and/or sexual IPV were 2.8 times as likely to report fair/poor health, and had SF-36 scores that ranged from 5.3 to 7.8 points lower, increased risk of depressive symptoms (PR=2.6) and severe depressive symptoms (PR=4.0), and more than one additional symptom. Longer duration of IPV was associated with incrementally worse health.


Women's health was adversely affected by the proximity, type, and duration of IPV exposure.

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