Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is associated with poorer health, yet pathways through which IPV affects either mental or physical health are not well characterized.
Methods: Structural equation modeling was used to test a model in which physical-IPV and battering were considered as separate independent variables. The sample included 191 women currently experiencing either physical IPV or battering. Emotional support provided to women experiencing IPV was hypothesized to mediate the impact of IPV on current mental and physical health (dependent variables).
Results: Higher scores on emotional support were associated with better physical (beta = -0.23, P < 0.01) and mental health (beta = -0.27, P < 0.001). Physical IPV was directly associated with poorer mental health (beta = 0.023, P < 0.01) and indirectly associated with poorer physical health (beta = 0.18, P < 0.001) and mental health (beta = -0.04, P < 0.05), primarily through battering. Higher battering scores were directly associated with less emotional support (beta = -0.33, P < 0.001) and indirectly associated with poorer physical (beta = 0.12, P < 0.01) and mental health (beta = 0.09, P < 0.01), primarily through emotional support. Model diagnostics indicated a good fit (chi(2) = 20.44, P = 0.37, GFI = 0.98, CFI = 0.99, RMSEA = 0.02).
Conclusions: Higher levels of emotional support may modify the effect of IPV on health. Interventions to increase social and emotional support to abused women may reduce mental and physical health consequences.