, Volume 15, Issue 11, pp 811-817

Prevalence and determinants of intimate partner abuse among public hospital primary care patients

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OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence, sociodemographic determinants, and depression correlates of intimate partner abuse among an ethnically diverse population of women patients.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional telephone survey in English and Spanish of a random sample of women patients aged 18 to 46 years.

SETTING: Three public hospital primary care clinics (general internal medicine, family medicine, and obstetrics/gynecology) in San Francisco, Calif.

PARTICIPANTS: We interviewed 734 (74%) of the 992 eligible participants. Thirty-one percent were non-Latina white, 31% African American, and 36% Latina.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Using questions adapted from the Abuse Assessment Screen, we determined recent and lifetime history of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse. Overall, 15% reported recent abuse by an intimate partner (in the preceding 12 months); lifetime prevalence was 51%. Recent abuse was more common among women aged 18 to 29 years (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 2.1; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.2 to 3.7), non-Latinas (adjusted OR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.0 to 2.9), and unmarried women (adjusted OR, 1.65; 95% CI, 1.0 to 2.7). The prevalence of abuse did not differ by education, employment, or medical insurance status of the women. Compared with women with no history of abuse, a greater proportion of recently abused women reported symptoms of depression (adjusted OR, 3.5; 95% CI, 2.2 to 5.5).

CONCLUSIONS: Because a substantial proportion of women patients in primary care settings are abused, screening for partner abuse and depression is indicated. In contrast to other studies, lower socioeconomic status was not associated with partner abuse history.

Presented in part at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association, Washington, DC, November 17, 1998.
This research was supported by the Picker Commonwealth Foundation and by a grant from the Center for Aging in Diverse Communities, funded by the National Institute on Aging.