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Domestic violence victims more likely to take up smoking
Date:5/5/2014

One third of women around the world have experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of their intimate partners with consequences from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression, to sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Now, in a new study in 29 low-income and middle-income countries, researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health have identified yet another serious health risk associated with intimate partner violence (IPV): smoking.

The researchers examined the association between IPV and smoking among 231,892 women aged 15-29, using information collected in the Demographic and Health Surveys. Intimate partner violence is a serious problem in low- and middle-income countries. Reports of IPV in their study ranged from 9 to 63%. Employing a meta-analysis of country-level data that accounted for confounding factors like age, education, and household wealth, they found a 58% increased risk for smoking among the women who experienced IPV.

Women are thought to smoke tobacco to self-medicate to cope with stress from IPV. Many may be unaware of the serious health risks; tobacco kills half of its users, according to the World Health Organization.

"A recent WHO report on IPV recommended that there is a clear need to scale-up efforts to both prevent IPV from happening in the first place and to provide necessary services for women experiencing IPV," says senior author Peter A. Muennig, MD, MPH, associate professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health.

The study points to a specific need for investments to help IPV victims avoid tobacco, adds first author Rishi Caleyachetty, MBBS, PhD, an epidemiologist on a Fulbright Scholarship at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health when he wrote the paper. "Information about the consequences of smoking, motivation to quit smoking and smoking-cessation treatments could be incorporated into IPV treat
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Contact: Timothy S. Paul
tp2111@columbia.edu
212-305-2676
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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