Problem-solving and mental health outcomes of women and children in the wake of intimate partner violence
The environmental stress of intimate partner violence is common and often results in mental health problems of depression, anxiety, and PTSD for women and behavioral dysfunctions for their children. Problem-solving skills can serve to mitigate or accentuate the environmental stress of violence and associated impact on mental health. To better understand the relationship between problem-solving skills and mental health of abused women with children, a cross-sectional predictive analysis of 285 abused women who used justice or shelter services was completed. The women were asked about social problem-solving, and mental health symptoms of depression, anxiety, and PTSD as well as behavioral functioning of their children. Higher negative problem-solving scores were associated with significantly greater odds of having clinically significant levels of PTSD, anxiety, depression, and somatization for the woman and significantly greater odds of her child having borderline or clinically significant levels of both internalizing and externalizing behaviors. A predominately negative problem-solving approach was strongly associated with poorer outcomes for both mothers and children in the aftermath of the environmental stress of abuse. Interventions addressing problem-solving ability may be beneficial in increasing abused women’s abilities to navigate the daily stressors of life following abuse.