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Association Between Women’s Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence and Self-reported Health Outcomes in New Zealand

Mellar, B. M., Hashemi, L. ORCID: 0000-0001-6449-3834, Selak, V. , Gulliver, P. J., McIntosh, T. K. D. & Fanslow, J. L. (2023). Association Between Women’s Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence and Self-reported Health Outcomes in New Zealand. JAMA Network Open, 6(3), article number e231311. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.1311


Importance: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is increasingly recognized as a contributing factor for long-term health problems; however, few studies have assessed these health outcomes using consistent and comprehensive IPV measures or representative population-based samples.

Objective: To examine associations between women’s lifetime IPV exposure and self-reported health outcomes.

Design, Setting, and Participants: The cross-sectional, retrospective 2019 New Zealand Family Violence Study, adapted from the World Health Organization’s Multi-Country Study on Violence Against Women, assessed data from 1431 ever-partnered women (63.7% of eligible women contacted) in New Zealand. The survey was conducted from March 2017 to March 2019, across 3 regions, which accounted for approximately 40% of the New Zealand population. Data analysis was performed from March to June 2022.

Exposures: Exposures were lifetime IPV by types (physical [severe/any], sexual, psychological, controlling behaviors, and economic abuse), any IPV (at least 1 type), and number of IPV types.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Outcome measures were poor general health, recent pain or discomfort, recent pain medication use, frequent pain medication use, recent health care consultation, any diagnosed physical health condition, and any diagnosed mental health condition. Weighted proportions were used to describe the prevalence of IPV by sociodemographic characteristics; bivariate and multivariable logistic regressions were used for the odds of experiencing health outcomes by IPV exposure.

Results: The sample comprised 1431 ever-partnered women (mean [SD] age, 52.2 [17.1] years). The sample was closely comparable with New Zealand’s ethnic and area deprivation composition, although younger women were slightly underrepresented. More than half of the women (54.7%) reported any lifetime IPV exposure, of whom 58.8% experienced 2 or more IPV types. Compared with all other sociodemographic subgroups, women who reported food insecurity had the highest IPV prevalence for any IPV (69.9%) and all specific types. Exposure to any IPV and specific IPV types was significantly associated with increased likelihood of reporting adverse health outcomes. Compared with those unexposed to IPV, women who experienced any IPV were more likely to report poor general health (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 2.02; 95% CI, 1.46-2.78), recent pain or discomfort (AOR, 1.81; 95% CI, 1.34-2.46), recent health care consultation (AOR, 1.29; 95% CI, 1.01-1.65), any diagnosed physical health condition (AOR, 1.49; 95% CI, 1.13-1.96), and any mental health condition (AOR, 2.78; 95% CI, 2.05-3.77). Findings suggested a cumulative or dose-response association because women who experienced multiple IPV types were more likely to report poorer health outcomes.

Conclusions and Relevance: In this cross-sectional study of women in New Zealand, IPV exposure was prevalent and associated with an increased likelihood of experiencing adverse health. Health care systems need to be mobilized to address IPV as a priority health issue.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the CC-BY-NC-ND License. © 2023 Mellar BM et al. JAMA Network Open.
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DU Oceania (South Seas)
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Violence and Society Centre
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of IPV_Health_Women.pdf]
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