Intimate partner violence victimization among women veterans and associated heart health risks

Womens Health Issues. Jul-Aug 2011;21(4 Suppl):S190-4. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2011.04.008.


Purpose: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. CVD risk factors, including depression, smoking, heavy drinking, being overweight, and physical inactivity, are associated with stress and may be linked to women's experiences of intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization. We know little about IPV and CVD risk factors among veteran women. The purpose of this study was to identify the association between lifetime IPV victimization and CVD risk factors among women, accounting for veteran status.

Methods: We used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System for 2006 for the eight states that included the IPV module. We explored the associations between veteran status and lifetime IPV victimization and between IPV exposure and CVD risk factors, for veteran and non-veteran women.

Findings: Veteran women were more likely than non-veteran women to report lifetime IPV victimization (33.0% vs. 23.8%). IPV exposure was associated with depression, smoking, and heavy drinking. We did not find evidence for an association between IPV exposure and lack of exercise or being overweight or obese, when controlling for demographic characteristics and veteran status.

Conclusion: Women veterans have particularly high rates of lifetime IPV victimization. In addition, IPV victimization is associated with an increased risk of heart health risk factors. The findings suggest that we should attend to IPV exposure among veteran women and further investigate the link between IPV and military service, and the associated health impacts.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Crime Victims / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Partners*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Veterans*
  • Violence / psychology*
  • Young Adult