Background: Homicide of women (femicide) by intimate partners is the most serious form of violence against women. The purpose of this analysis of a larger multisite study was to describe health care use in the year prior to murder of women by their intimate partner in order to identify opportunities for intervention to prevent femicide.
Methods: A sample of femicide cases was identified from police or medical examiner records. Participants (n = 311) were proxy informants (most often female family members) of victims of intimate partner femicide from 11 U.S. cities. Information about prior domestic abuse and use of health care and other helping agencies for victims and perpetrators was obtained during structured telephone interviews.
Results: Most victims had been abused by their partners (66%) and had used health care agencies for either injury or physical or mental health problems (41%). Among women who had been pregnant during the relationship, 23% were beaten by partners during pregnancy. Among perpetrators with fair or poor physical health, 53% had contact with physicians and 15% with fair or poor mental health had seen a doctor about their mental health problem. Among perpetrators with substance problems, 5.4% had used alcohol treatment programs and 5.7% had used drug treatment programs.
Conclusions: Frequent contacts with helping agencies by victims and perpetrators represent opportunities for the prevention of femicide by health care providers.
Copyright 2001 American Health Foundation and Academic Press.