Are alcohol problems linked with an increase in depressive symptoms in abused, inner-city African American women?

Anuradha Paranjape, Sheryl Heron, Martie Thompson, Kafi Bethea, Triphinia Wallace, Nadine Kaslow
Women's Health Issues: Official Publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health 2007, 17 (1): 37-43

OBJECTIVE: Little is known regarding the link between intimate partner violence (IPV), alcohol problems (AP), and depression in inner-city African American women. We sought to investigate whether abused inner-city African American women reporting AP endorsed more depressive symptoms compared to women reporting either AP or IPV or reporting neither.

METHOD: Participants for this cross-sectional study were 361 African American women seeking medical care at a large public hospital. Measurements included the Index of Spouse Abuse, Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test, and the Brief Symptom Index-Depression Subscale to assess IPV, AP, and depressive symptoms, respectively. Based on IPV and AP status, participants were assigned to one of four non-hierarchical risk groups: (i) low or no IPV, no AP; (ii) high IPV alone; (iii) AP alone; or (iv) both high IPV and AP. Additive effect of high levels of IPV and AP on outcome were assessed using logistic regression techniques.

RESULTS: Thirty percent reported high IPV levels, and 18% had AP. Compared with participants reporting both no AP and low or no IPV, those reporting either high IPV levels or AP reported moderate to severe depressive symptoms 4 times more often (p < .001). Women reporting high IPV and AP endorsed moderate to severe depressive symptoms 8 times more often than women reporting neither (p < .001).

CONCLUSIONS: Among inner-city, African American women, depressive symptoms are highest among those reporting both high IPV levels and AP. Health care systems serving similar communities should implement a systematic approach to identifying IPV, AP, and depression in patients.

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