Assessing intimate partner violence in health care settings leads to women's receipt of interventions and improved health

Public Health Rep. Jul-Aug 2006;121(4):435-44. doi: 10.1177/003335490612100412.


Objective: This study investigated whether disclosure of violence to health care providers and the receipt of interventions relate to women's exit from an abusive relationship and to their improved health.

Methods: A volunteer sample of 132 women outpatients who described intimate partner violence during the preceding year were recruited from multiple hospital departments and community agencies in suburban and urban metropolitan Boston. Through in-person interviews, women provided information on demographics, past year exposure to violence, past year receipt of interventions, and whether they disclosed partner violence to their health care provider. They also described their past month health status with the 12-Item Short-Form Health Survey and further questions.

Results: Of the 132 women, 44% had exited the abusive relationship. Among those who were no longer with their partner, 55% received a domestic violence intervention (e.g. advocacy, shelter, restraining order), compared with 37% of those who remained with their partner. Talking to their health care provider about the abuse increased women's likelihood of using an intervention (odds ratio [OR]=3.9). Those who received interventions were more likely to subsequently exit (OR=2.6) and women no longer with the abuser reported better physical health based on SF-12 summary scores (p=0.05) than women who stayed.

Conclusions: Health care providers may make positive contributions to women's access to intimate partner violence services. Intimate partner violence interventions relate to women's reduced exposure to violence and better health.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Battered Women / statistics & numerical data
  • Boston / epidemiology
  • Communication*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Sexual Partners
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spouse Abuse / statistics & numerical data*