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Health Care Costs - Significant for Abused Women

Women with a history of abuse by intimate partners have significantly higher health care costs //and utilization than women with no history of such abuse, according to a study conducted at Group Health, a Seattle-based health plan.

The higher costs and utilization continued long after the abuse ended, the research team from Group Health, the University of Washington (UW), and the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center (HIPRC) found. The findings appear in the February 2007 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

"These results show the enormous costs of intimate partner violence (IPV) and can justify investing in intervention programs to reduce its health effects and prevent its recurrence, said lead author Frederick P. Rivara, MD, MPH. "It would also justify the costs of long-term programs to prevent this problem from happening in the first place."

Rivara is a researcher with HIPRC and professor of pediatrics at UW, as well as an affiliate investigator at the Group Health Center for Health Studies. The principal investigator for the study is Robert S. Thompson, MD, senior investigator at Group Health Center for Health Studies.

The study was based on telephone surveys, medical records, and utilization data from 3,333 women, aged 18 to 64 years old. Of these, 1,546 women reported having experienced IPV in their lifetime. The study defines IPV as both physical abuse (slapping, hitting, kicking, or forced sex) and nonphysical abuse (threats, chronic disparaging remarks, or controlling behavior).

The study showed:

· Annual total health care costs were 19 percent higher in women with a history of IPV ($439 annually) compared to women without IPV in their backgrounds.
· Health care utilization was higher for all categories of service during and after IPV compared to women who had not been abused. Women reporting IPV had 17 percent more primary care visits; 14 percent more
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