Background: We characterized the relative risk of a wide range of diagnoses in women with a history of intimate partner violence (IPV) compared with never-abused women.
Methods: The sample comprised 3568 English-speaking women who were randomly sampled from a large US health plan and who agreed to participate in a telephone survey to assess past-year IPV history using questions from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (physical, sexual, and psychological abuse) and the Women's Experience with Battering Scale. Medical and psychosocial diagnoses in the past year were determined using automated data from health plan records. We estimated the relative risk of receiving diagnoses for women with a past-year IPV history compared with women with no IPV history.
Results: In age-adjusted models, compared with never-abused women, abused women had consistently significantly increased relative risks of these disorders: psychosocial/mental (substance use, 5.89; family and social problems, 4.96; depression, 3.26; anxiety/neuroses, 2.73; tobacco use, 2.31); musculoskeletal (degenerative joint disease, 1.71; low back pain, 1.61; trauma-related joint disorders, 1.59; cervical pain, 1.54; acute sprains and strains, 1.35); and female reproductive (menstrual disorders, 1.84; vaginitis/vulvitis/cervicitis, 1.56). Abused women had a more than 3-fold increased risk of being diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease (3.15) and a 2-fold increased risk of lacerations (2.17) as well as increased risk of acute respiratory tract infection (1.33), gastroesophageal reflux disease (1.76), chest pain (1.53), abdominal pain (1.48), urinary tract infections (1.79), headaches (1.57), and contusions/abrasions (1.72).
Conclusion: Past-year IPV history was strongly associated with a variety of medical and psychosocial conditions observed in clinical settings.