Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) has important impacts on the health of women in society. Our aim was to estimate the health and economic benefits of reducing the prevalence of IPV in the 2008 Australian female adult population.
Methods: Simulation models were developed to show the effect of a 5 percentage point absolute feasible reduction target in the prevalence of IPV from current Australian levels (27%). IPV is not measured in national surveys. Levels of psychological distress were used as a proxy for exposure to IPV since psychological conditions represent three-quarters of the disease burden from IPV. Lifetime cohort health benefits for females were estimated as fewer incident cases of violence-related disease and injury; deaths; and Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs). Opportunity cost savings were estimated for the health sector, paid and unpaid production and leisure from reduced incidence of IPV-related disease and deaths. Workforce production gains were estimated by comparing surveyed participation and absenteeism rates of females with moderate psychological distress (lifetime IPV exposure) against high or very high distress (current IPV exposure), and valued using the friction cost approach (FCA). The impact of improved health status on unpaid household production and leisure time were modelled from time use survey data. Potential costs associated with interventions to reduce IPV were not considered. Multivariable uncertainty analyses and univariable sensitivity analyses were undertaken.
Results: A 5 percentage point absolute reduction in the lifetime prevalence of IPV in the 2008 Australian female population was estimated to produce 6000 fewer incident cases of disease/injury, 74 fewer deaths, 5000 fewer DALYs lost and provide gains of 926,000 working days, 371,000 days of home-based production and 428,000 leisure days. Overall, AUD371 million in opportunity cost savings could be achievable. The greatest economic savings would be home-based production (AUD147 million), followed by leisure time (AUD98 million), workforce production (AUD94 million) and reduced health sector costs (AUD38 million).
Conclusions: This study contributes new knowledge about the economic impact of IPV in females. The findings provide evidence of large potential opportunity cost savings from reducing the prevalence of IPV and reinforce the need to reduce IPV in Australia, and elsewhere.