Relating intimate partner violence to heath-care utilisation and injuries among Pacific children in Auckland: the Pacific Islands Families Study

Philip J Schluter, Janis Paterson
Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 2009, 45 (9): 518-24

AIM: Despite well-known emotional and behavioural sequela, few studies investigate health-care utilisation and injury impacts of children exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV). This study examines the association between mothers' IPV experience and general practitioner (GP) and hospital presentations by their children within the first 6 years of life.

METHODS: In 2000, a cohort of Pacific infants born in Auckland was established. At 6 weeks, 2 years and 6 years post-partum, maternal home interviews were conducted and IPV experience elicited using the Conflict Tactic Scale, together with reports of children's GP and hospital visitations.

RESULTS: At 6 weeks, 2 years and 6 years, 1098, 921 and 799 participating mothers were in intimate relationships. Severe physical IPV was reported by 22.1, 23.0 and 7.1% of mothers, respectively, and minor IPV was reported by another 18.7, 16.9 and 6.1%, respectively. Compared with children without maternal physical IPV exposure, children of mothers disclosing severe physical IPV were 1.19 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.08-1.31) times as likely to visit GPs, and children of mothers disclosing minor physical IPV were 1.13 (95% CI: 1.02-1.25) times as likely to visit GPs, after adjusting for socio-demographic, maternal mental health and other confounding factors. No significant association was found between maternal IPV and children's hospital visits, or GP or hospital visits for injury.

CONCLUSIONS: IPV is common for many mothers of Pacific children, and is associated with significantly more GP visits for exposed children. Identification of maternal IPV during mothers' and children's GP and hospital visits may help guide services to prevent future presentations to children.

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