Intimate partner violence, health status, and health care access among women with disabilities

Kirsten A Barrett, Bonnie O'Day, Allison Roche, Barbara Lepidus Carlson
Women's Health Issues: Official Publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health 2009, 19 (2): 94-100

BACKGROUND: Evidence suggests that intimate partner violence (IPV) against women with disabilities is more pervasive than against women without disabilities. However, little is known about the relationship between IPV, health status, and access to care among women with disabilities.

OBJECTIVES: This study 1) describes the prevalence of IPV among women with disabilities and compares IPV prevalence among women with and without disabilities, 2) examines if health status and health care access differ between women with disabilities experiencing IPV and those not experiencing IPV, and 3) examines the association between IPV, health status, and health care access among women with disabilities.

METHODS: We conducted secondary analyses of data from 23,154 female respondents to the 2006 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System in 7 states administering the IPV module in 2006. Of these respondents, 6,309 had a disability. We performed chi(2) and logistic regression analyses to address the study objectives.

RESULTS: Women with disabilities are significantly more likely to have experienced IPV as compared with those without disabilities (33.2% and 21.2%, respectively). Women with disabilities who have experienced IPV are 35% less likely to report their health as good to excellent and are 58% more likely to report an unmet health care need owing to cost than their disabled counterparts not experiencing IPV, when holding selected sociodemographic factors constant.

IMPLICATIONS: Practitioners should be aware of the increased risk of IPV among women with disabilities and its association with health status and access to health care. Practitioners, policy makers, and disability advocates should work together to remove barriers to accessing the health care system for women with disabilities, particularly those experiencing IPV.

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