Study objective: We identify health variables associated with a history of intimate partner violence (IPV) using self-reported and laboratory measures.
Methods: This study used a cross-sectional design. Participants were a randomized sample of English-speaking women between the ages of 18 and 50 years who presented to a large urban emergency department. Potential participants were screened in the ED for a history of physical abuse and coded as having experienced no IPV (No IPV), as having a recent history of IPV (occurring in the previous 12 months; IPVA), or as having a remote history (most recent occurrence >12 months ago; IPVHx). Participants were interviewed several days later in an outpatient setting regarding demographics, medical care use, and physical and mental health variables. Participants also received urine and blood tests and a pelvic examination.
Results: Self-reported health was poorest among women reporting IPVA and best among women reporting no IPVA. Women in the IPVA group differed from women with no IPV history with respect to cocaine use (odds ratio [OR] 4.8; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.4 to 17.3), sexually transmitted diseases (OR 5.1; 95% CI 1.5 to 20.3), and nightmare frequency (OR 11.6; 95% CI 2.3 to 83.4). Women reporting IPVHx were more likely to report a history of sexually transmitted diseases than women with no IPV history (OR 4.1; 95% CI 1.6 to 11.4) and had more frequent nightmares (OR 5.0; 95% CI 1.3 to 24.9). Urine and blood tests identified only 2 variables (hemoglobin levels, mean corpuscular volume) that differed significantly between groups by IPV history; these differences were not clinically significant.
Conclusion: Women with a recent history of IPV reported a poorer health status than women with no IPV history; laboratory testing detected few differences.