Background: This article summarises findings from ten countries from the WHO multi-country study on women's health and domestic violence against women.
Methods: Standardised population-based surveys were done between 2000 and 2003. Women aged 15-49 years were interviewed about their experiences of physically and sexually violent acts by a current or former intimate male partner, and about selected symptoms associated with physical and mental health. The women reporting physical violence by a partner were asked about injuries that resulted from this type of violence.
Findings: 24,097 women completed interviews. Pooled analysis of all sites found significant associations between lifetime experiences of partner violence and self-reported poor health (odds ratio 1.6 [95% CI 1.5-1.8]), and with specific health problems in the previous 4 weeks: difficulty walking (1.6 [1.5-1.8]), difficulty with daily activities (1.6 [1.5-1.8]), pain (1.6 [1.5-1.7]), memory loss (1.8 [1.6-2.0]), dizziness (1.7 [1.6-1.8]), and vaginal discharge (1.8 [1.7-2.0]). For all settings combined, women who reported partner violence at least once in their life reported significantly more emotional distress, suicidal thoughts (2.9 [2.7-3.2]), and suicidal attempts (3.8 [3.3-4.5]), than non-abused women. These significant associations were maintained in almost all of the sites. Between 19% and 55% of women who had ever been physically abused by their partner were ever injured.
Interpretation: In addition to being a breach of human rights, intimate partner violence is associated with serious public-health consequences that should be addressed in national and global health policies and programmes.