Domestic violence against patients with chronic neurologic disorders

Arch Neurol. 1999 Jun;56(6):681-5. doi: 10.1001/archneur.56.6.681.


Background: Violent behavior caused by some neurologic disorders has been widely studied. However, the inverse, violence suffered by patients with neurologic disorders, has not been reported. Brain disorders frequently produce a high frequency of social, psychological, or physical disabilities that could leave patients vulnerable to domestic violence.

Objectives: To determine the prevalence of domestic violence among female patients with chronic neurologic disorders and to identify possible diagnoses associated with the battering syndrome.

Design: Cross-sectional, self-administered, anonymous survey.

Setting: Tertiary care center for neurologic disorders in Mexico.

Patients: One thousand consecutive adult female patients with neurologic disorders, separated by medical diagnosis of functional or structural disorders.

Main outcome measures: A modified version of the Abuse Assessment Screen was administered. Statistical analysis was performed using Poisson regression to estimate the prevalence ratio by univariate and multivariate analysis.

Results: Overall, 31.2% of women with chronic neurologic disorders were survivors of domestic violence. When separated according to the nature of the disease, 35.3% of patients with functional disorders and 28.1% of patients with brain structural disorders were victims of domestic violence (P = .02). Risk increased in relation to duration of marriage, number of children, and work outside the home.

Conclusions: One third of female patients with chronic neurologic disorders in Mexico suffer domestic violence. A higher frequency of domestic violence was endured by patients with diagnosis of functional disorders as essential epilepsy, headache, migraine, trigeminal pain, depression, or vertigo. The possibility of domestic violence should be routinely explored in patients with chronic neurologic disorders of functional origin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • California
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Domestic Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Middle Aged
  • Nervous System Diseases / psychology*
  • Prevalence