Synergistic effects of child abuse and intimate partner violence on depressive symptoms in women

Colleen T Fogarty, Lisa Fredman, Timothy C Heeren, Jane Liebschutz
Preventive Medicine 2008, 46 (5): 463-9

OBJECTIVE: Few population-based studies have examined the association of both child abuse (i.e., physical and sexual abuse) and intimate partner violence (IPV) with depressive symptoms in women. This study estimated the odds of depressive symptoms over the prior week among women exposed to child abuse or IPV alone, and both child abuse and IPV.

METHOD: Cross-sectional analysis of 7918 women respondents to the 1995 National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS).

RESULTS: The prevalence of self-reported depressive symptoms was 50.2% in women reporting both child abuse and IPV, followed by women reporting IPV (35.7%) or child abuse alone (34.9%), and 25.2% in those with no reported abuse. Multivariable logistic regression found that women who reported both child abuse and IPV had over twice the odds of depressive symptoms than women reporting no abuse (adjusted odds ratio, OR=2.80 95% confidence interval, CI=2.35, 3.32). Smaller, though significantly elevated odds of depression were found among respondents with child abuse only (OR=1.63, 95% CI 1.42, 1.86) and IPV only (OR=1.55, 95% CI 1.30, 1.84).

CONCLUSION: The results demonstrate a super-additive risk of depressive symptoms in women exposed to both child abuse and IPV, and underscore the adverse psychological effects of these exposures.

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