Study links domestic violence to chronic disease in women

Results of study presented Thursday in Capitol Hill briefing

WASHINGTON — Domestic violence has devastating effects on families, but new research also links it to chronic disease in women and calls on healthcare professionals to do more to determine whether there may be a link between the two in patients.

According to a survey sponsored by the Verizon Foundation, the Society for Women's Health Research and MORE magazine, a significant link exists between domestic violence and many chronic health conditions, and the healthcare industry, support agencies and others should do more to recognize and act on the connection. The survey, conducted by research company GFK in August, included 1,005 women and was presented at a Capitol Hill briefing Thursday that included Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., Donna Edwards, D-Md., Kristi Noem, R-S.D., and Doris Matsui, D-Calif.

The survey found that 70% of adult women older than 21 years have a chronic health condition, but that figure rises to 81% among women who have experienced any form of domestic violence; the survey found that overall, 44% of women had experienced some form of domestic violence.

"In our efforts to improve the care of women with chronic health conditions, it's important to identify new technology solutions to help healthcare providers and patients overcome obstacles to reducing the long-term health impacts, which includes those from domestic violence," Verizon VP global corporate social responsibility and Verizon Foundation president Rose Stuckey Kirk said. "We believe we haven't fully utilized technology that can greatly help doctors and patients manage care."

But despite the survey's results, only 6% of women said their doctor or nurse has made a link between domestic violence and chronic disease, and three-quarters say they have never been asked about domestic violence during a medical exam. Among elderly women, 85% have never been screened, but they are no less likely than younger counterparts to experience domestic violence.

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