Women who had been physically abused within the last five years, but not currently, had 24 percent higher yearly health costs. Abuse that occurred more than five years ago resulted in 19 percent higher costs.
The study separately examined women who experienced psychological abuse, which included verbal threats and chronic controlling behavior.
Those suffering psychological abuse within the past five years, but not currently, had yearly health care costs that were 33 percent higher than those of non-abused women.
"It's possible that it takes additional time for women with psychological abuse to seek care for their experiences," Bonomi said.
Another striking finding was that all abused women, whether they experienced physical or psychological abuse, used significantly more mental health services than non-abused women, Bonomi said.
Women suffering ongoing physical abuse were about 2.5 times more likely to visit a mental health provider in the past year than were non-abused women. The rate for psychologically abused women was two times higher.
"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," Bonomi said.
But mental health was just one of several areas in which abused women used more services.
Physically abused women used significantly more primary care, pharmacy, specialty care, laboratory and radiology services.
For psychologically abused women, more services were needed in specialty care, pharmacy, and radiology.
Group Health, the health care system whose members were surveyed for the study, provides health and insurance services to more than 500,000 people in the Pacific Northwest.
|Contact: Amy Bonomi|
Ohio State University