Preventative health screening amongst women who have experienced intimate partner violence
Objectives: Partner violence affects one in three women worldwide and is linked to higher rates of women?s cancers with increased utilization of health care services. However, evidence of the association between severity of violence and health screening behaviors (i.e., Pap testing, mammography, & clinical/self-breast exams [SBEs]) is scant. The purpose of this study was to identify engagement of abused women in preventive health screening behaviors.
Materials and Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of 284 abused women with children. Participants were part of a 7-year prospective study to examine the treatment efficacy of the 2 models most often offered to abused women. At the 24th month interview, data on health promotion behaviors were collected via investigator designed instrument. Both descriptive and chi square analysis were used for data analysis.
Results: Abused women were more likely to engage in preventative health behaviors than the general US female population but had a higher incidence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and abnormal Pap test results with variance based on race, ethnicity, immigration status, language, and the type of intimate partner violence (IPV) services initiated. Preventative screening was adequate, but there was poor follow-up care for abused women who received abnormal results.
Conclusion: Findings suggest urgent need to maintain high rates of screening and initiate better follow-up care. Recognition of the potential co-existence of gynecological infections or cervical cellular irregularities with the experience of partner abuse may lead health care providers to improved diagnosis and treatment for both IPV and abnormal gender-specific health care outcomes.