Article

Intimate partner violence and women's physical and mental health in the WHO multi-country study on women's health and domestic violence: an observational study

PATH, Washington, DC, USA.
The Lancet (Impact Factor: 45.22). 05/2008; 371(9619):1165-72. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(08)60522-X
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This article summarises findings from ten countries from the WHO multi-country study on women's health and domestic violence against women.
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.
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.
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.

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