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Am J Epidemiol. 2015 May 15;181(10):817-26. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwu350. Epub 2015 Mar 31.

Violent Victimization, Mental Health, and Service Utilization Outcomes in a Cohort of Homeless and Unstably Housed Women Living With or at Risk of Becoming Infected With HIV.


Most studies about the association between exposure to violence and higher psychological vulnerability have been cross-sectional in nature. Using longitudinal data from the Shelter, Health, and Drug Outcomes Among Women Study on 300 homeless or unstably housed women infected with or at risk of becoming infected with human immunodeficiency virus who were living in San Francisco, California, in 2008-2012, we examined the relationship between recent violent victimization and mental health status, mental health-related emergency department visits, and psychiatric hospitalization. We used generalized estimating equations to account for potentially confounding time-invariant and time-varying variables, including comorbid psychiatric conditions and lifetime history of child abuse. A total of 207 (69%) women experienced childhood abuse. The median number of psychiatric diagnoses per woman at baseline was 8 (interquartile range, 5-11). Recent exposure to violence was associated with lower mental health status (b = -1.85, 95% confidence interval: -3.02, -0.68) and higher risks of mental health-related emergency department visits (adjusted risk ratio = 2.96, 95% confidence interval: 1.51, 5.78) and psychiatric hospitalizations (adjusted risk ratio = 2.32, 95% confidence interval: 1.10, 4.91). We did not find strong evidence of a reciprocal relationship. Among homeless or unstably housed women with severe preexisting comorbid psychiatric conditions, recent violence has adverse mental health consequences. Reducing ongoing violence may improve mental health in this population.


HIV; depressive disorder; partner violence; quality of life; rape

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