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Research into Intimate Partner Violence

It has been found that about 44% of women are victims of intimate partner violence and this adversely affected their physical and mental health. // Screening for it is inadequate, and interventions are unclear. The Group Health Cooperative in Seattle and the June issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine examines this making recommendations for next steps in addressing this issue.

With colleagues from Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center and the University of Washington, Group Health researchers evaluated the prevalence, timing, and severity of IPV in women, and the association between IPV and women's health and health behaviors.

In the first research article, Robert S. Thompson, MD, and colleagues found that IPV was not only highly prevalent (up to 44% of the more than 3,400 women said they experienced IPV as an adult) but also chronic, lasting more than 5 years and in some cases more than 20 years. Most abused women experienced more than one type of IPV: for example, physical IPV and verbal threats. In addition, the severity of abuse was rated as moderately or extremely violent in 30% to 60% of reports, depending on the type of IPV.

"A picture emerges of both physical and non-physical IPV as very common, chronic, intergenerational, and present in highly overlapping forms," according to Thompson, senior investigator at Group Health Center for Health Studies. He and his coauthors conclude:

? The time has arrived to mount and evaluate major interventions in day-to-day medical practice, as they and others have proposed.

? These efforts could employ universal routine questioning coupled with links to institutional and community services, so the practitioner's fear of opening Pandora's Box is adequately addressed.

? Many women want to answer questions addressing IPV, so the potential negative effects of asking about IPV seem exaggerated.

Amy E. Bonomi, PhD, MPH, research associa
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