CRVAW Faculty Journal Articles


Purpose: To estimate the frequency and type of disabilities preventing work among those experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) compared with those never experiencing IPV.

Methods: We used a large cross-sectional survey of women, ages 18–65, attending family practice clinics from 1997 through 1998. Participation included a 5–10-minute in-clinic survey assessing IPV experience and a longer telephone survey assessing health status and chronic disabilities that prevented work outside the home or housework.

Results: Of 1,152 eligible women surveyed, 54% experienced some type of IPV, and 24% were currently in a violent relationship. Women who had ever experienced IPV were more than twice as likely to report a disability (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] _ 2.2, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.6, 3.0). The most commonly reported disabilities were those associated with heart or circulatory disease (4.9%), followed by back problems (3.5%), chronic pain (3.4%), arthritis (3.0%), nerve system damage (2.4%), asthma or another respiratory problem including emphysema (1.7%), and either depression (1.6%) or another mental illness (1.0%). Women ever experiencing IPV were more likely to report a disability due to generalized chronic pain (aOR _ 2.5, 95% CI 1.5, 4.3) and mental illness (aOR _ 4.5, 95% CI 1.5, 13.1). IPV-related injuries were associated in a dose-dependent manner with having any disability and with disability from chronic pain, asthma and other respiratory diseases, mental illness, and chronic diseases.

Conclusions: Primary care-based efforts to screen for IPV and effectively intervene to reduce the impact of IPV on women’s lives must be a public health priority to reduce the shortterm and long-term health effects, including disabilities.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in Journal of Women's Health, v. 14, no. 9, p. 829-838.

This is a copy of an article published in the Journal of Women’s Health © 2005 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.; Journal of Women’s Health is available online at:

Dr. Ann Coker had not been a faculty member of the University of Kentucky at the time of publication.

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