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VOLUME 44 | NUMBER 3 | JUNE 2009

Health Care Utilization and Costs Associated with Physical and Nonphysical-Only Intimate Partner Violence

Objective. To estimate health care utilization and costs associated with the type of intimate partner violence (IPV) women experience by the timing of their abuse.

Methods. A total of 3,333 women (ages 18–64) were randomly sampled from the membership files of a large health plan located in a metropolitan area and participated in a telephone survey to assess IPV history, including the type of IPV (physical IPV or nonphysical abuse only) and the timing of the abuse (ongoing; recent, not ongoing but occurring in the past 5 years; remote, ending at least 5 years prior). Automated annual health care utilization and costs were assembled over 7.4 years for women with physical IPV and nonphysical abuse only by the time period during which their abuse occurred (ongoing, recent, remote), and compared with those of never-abused women (reference group).

Results. Mental health utilization was significantly higher for women with physical or nonphysical abuse only compared with never-abused women—with the highest use among women with ongoing abuse (relative risk for those with ongoing abuse: physical, 2.61; nonphysical, 2.18). Physically abused women also used more emergency department, hospital outpatient, primary care, pharmacy, and specialty services; for emergency department, pharmacy, and specialty care, utilization was the highest for women with ongoing abuse. Total annual health care costs were higher for physically abused women, with the highest costs for ongoing abuse (42 percent higher compared with nonabused women), followed by recent (24 percent higher) and remote abuse (19 percent higher). Women with recent nonphysical abuse only had annual costs that were 33 percent higher than nonabused women.

Conclusion. Physical and nonphysical abuse contributed to higher health care utilization, particularly mental health services utilization.

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