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Childhood and Adult Abuse Among Women in Primary Health Care: Effects on Mental Health

NCJ Number
Journal of Interpersonal Violence Volume: 18 Issue: 8 Dated: August 2003 Pages: 924-941
Bonnie E. Carlson; Louise-Anne McNutt; Deborah Y. Choi
Date Published
August 2003
18 pages
This study examined a sample of abused women participating in an evaluation of a domestic violence screening intervention in a primary health care setting.
Physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse were found to be common experiences in the women comprising this primary health care sample. The findings are consistent with a cumulative effect of abuse on depression and anxiety over the life span. The findings have important implications for intervention. Because childhood, past adult, and recent abuse among women are very common and even low levels are associated with current anxiety and depression, it is important for health and mental health workers to obtain a thorough abuse history because of the possible cumulative effects of abuse. Intimate partner abuse has increasingly become a focus of concern among mental health professionals. Intimate partner abuse is defined as encompassing physical violence, emotional or psychological abuse, and sexual abuse. In an attempt to determine whether different types and levels of abuse result in unique mental health effects or more generally increase risk of psychopathology, this study investigated seven types of childhood and adult abuse and different levels of severity in relation to depression and anxiety. The study consisted of 557 women who participated in an evaluation of an intervention to screen women for domestic violence in a Northeast community health setting. Tables, notes, references


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