UNM School of Medicine Study Shows Abused Women Have Poorer Heatlh

A recent study by University of New Mexico School of Medicine physicians, published in the January issue of Annals of Emergency Medicine, reports that women who have experienced intimate partner violence are more likely to be in poorer health than women not involved in violent relationships.

In an article, entitled, "Health Status and Intimate Partner Violence: A Cross-Sectional Study," the authors report that women who were physically abused by their partners were more likely to report a history of cocaine abuse, sexually transmitted diseases and nightmares, compared to women who were not physically abused.

The study included English-speaking female patients between 18-50, who received care in the University of New Mexico Hospital Emergency Room for non-critical health conditions. Patients for the study were recruited between December 1996 to May 1997.

Out of 427 women screened for intimate partner violence, nearly half (47.3 percent) reported they had been physically abused by their partner. Of these, 51 (25.6 percent) reported the most recent assault occurred in the last 12 month, while 146 (73.4 percent) reported the most recent assault occurring more than a year ago.

The study is the first to identify a cluster of symptoms physicians can screen for in abused women, said Dr. David Sklar, professor of Emergency Medicine and Chair of the UNM School of Medicine Emergency Medicine Department at the Health Sciences Center. It also points to the importance of screening for physical abuse within the ER.

"We've known that the percentage of women with a history of physical abuse presenting the ER is high," he said. "But with one out of two women coming into the ER reporting a history of intimate partner violence, it is warranted that all women who seek emergency care should be screened for this type of abuse."

Contact: Cindy Foster, 272-3322

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