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Health-Care Costs Go Up, and Stay Up, for Abused Women

Domestic violence carries 'substantial financial price,' study finds

FRIDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) -- Women who are physically or psychologically abused by their partners spend more each year on health care, even years after the abuse stops, a new report says.

The long-term study of more than 3,300 women in the Pacific Northwest revealed that women in ongoing abusive relationships spent about 42 percent more a year on physical and mental health-care services than did women not in abusive relationships.

Even those who had not been subjected to abuse in at least five years spent 19 percent a year more for health care than those who had never suffered abuse from an intimate partner, according to findings by a team from Ohio State University, the Group Health Cooperative, and the University of Washington in Seattle.

"Along with all the physical and emotional pain it causes, domestic violence also comes with a substantial financial price," Amy Bonomi, an associate professor of human development and family science at Ohio State and a co-author of the study, said in a news release from the university.

In relationships involving psychological abuse, such as verbal threats, stifling control by a partner and other such tactics, women spent 33 percent more on health care than their non-abused peers, even though the incidents had occurred not at the time of the survey but within the previous five years.

Abuse victims sought care from specialists, prescription services and radiology far more than other women, the report found

The findings were published online in the journal Health Services Research.

The study, which included data from 1992 to 2002, found that physically and psychologically abused women sought help from mental health services at least twice as often as women who were not abused, Bonomi said.

"This lends support to the idea that mental health providers should always ask women about their abuse history when they first come in for treatment," she said.

More information

The Rural Assistance Center has more about domestic violence.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: Ohio State University, news release, March 23, 2009

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