Obesity in women who have experienced intimate partner violence

J Adv Nurs. 2018 Dec;74(12):2785-2797. doi: 10.1111/jan.13797. Epub 2018 Aug 22.


Aims: The aim of this study was to examine the pathway through which intimate partner violence (IPV) severity and child abuse severity influence obesity among women who have experienced IPV.

Background: Intimate partner violence is a public health issue that is found to be related to obesity. Yet, little is known about the pathways that link both IPV and child abuse experiences to obesity. The roles of posttraumatic stress disorder and depressive symptoms in the relations between IPV and obesity are still not well known.

Design: A cross-sectional study of 299 women who have experienced IPV.

Methods: A convenience sample of abused women was recruited from nine primary healthcare centres in Saudi Arabia. Data were collected in 2015, using self-report questionnaires and physical measures for obesity. Non-parametric analysis of variance was conducted to explore group differences. Structural equation modelling was used to examine the hypothesized model.

Results: Among the sample, 52.5% was classified as obese based on body mass index. Obese women had significantly higher levels of IPV, physical child abuse, depressive symptoms and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms. The study showed that both IPV severity and child abuse severity indirectly influenced obesity through depressive symptoms.

Conclusion: The alarming rate of obesity among abused women suggests that these women are at great risk for obesity, which necessitates clinical consideration. The study findings highlight the need to treat depressive symptoms to manage and prevent obesity among IPV and child abuse survivors. Specifically, nurses should tailor interventions that address mental health outcomes of abuse in managing obesity.

Keywords: PTSD; child abuse; depression; intimate partner violence; nursing; obesity; posttraumatic stress disorder.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Young Adult