Abused women's perceptions of health before and after seeking help at a Police Department
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This study describes how intimate partner violence (IPV) affects abused women's health and their perceptions of health before and after seeking help at a police department regarding the IPV in their lives. A descriptive, longitudinal, repeated-measures design was employed to examine the hypothesis that there would be a change over time in the health perceptions of abused women who go to a police department with the intent to file assault charges (helpseeking) against an intimate partner. A consecutive sample of 90 abused women attempting to file charges and meeting study criteria was obtained during a 35-day period. The Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) was used to assess the women's health perceptions for the 3-months prior to seeking help and was readministered at three and six months following helpseeking. Mean scores were calculated for each of the eight SF-36 scales at the three separate time intervals and a multivariate approach one-way repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) tested the hypothesis. Internal consistency reliability of the SF-36 was estimated by calculation of Cronbach's alpha for the eight scales of the instrument. Of the 90 abused women who were interviewed at time of helpseeking, 87 were available at three months (97%) and 83 were available at six months for a 92% final retention rate. The data analysis revealed this sample of abused women reported poor physical and mental scores on the SF-36 at time of helpseeking. Over time, perceptions of health did significantly improve for the scales of Bodily Pain (F2,81 = 27.58, p < .0005), Vitality (F2,81 = 13.21, p < .0005), Social Functioning (F2,81 = 8.17, p = .001), Emotional Role Performance (F 2,81 = 16.85, p < .0005), and Mental Health (F2,81 = 25.33, p < .0005). For these five scales, perceptions of health improved significantly both at three and six months after helpseeking. Adequate reliability of the SF-36 with the abused women was demonstrated.