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Physical and mental health of women exposed to intimate partner violence in the 10 years after having their first child: An Australian prospective cohort study of first-time mothers

journal contribution
posted on 2021-01-19, 23:40 authored by SJ Brown, LJ Conway, KM Fitzpatrick, K Hegarty, FK Mensah, S Papadopoullos, H Woolhouse, Rebecca GialloRebecca Giallo, D Gartland
Objective To investigate mental and physical health of mothers exposed to recent and early postpartum intimate partner violence (IPV) in the 10 years after having their first child. Design Prospective pregnancy cohort study. Setting Women were recruited at six metropolitan public maternity hospitals in Melbourne, Australia and followed up at 1, 4 and 10 years post partum. Study measures Exposure to physical and/or emotional IPV was measured using the Composite Abuse Scale at 1, 4 and 10 years. At 10-year follow-up, mothers reported on physical and mental health, and functional health status. Participants 1507 first-time mothers enrolled at mean of 15 weeks' gestation. Results One in three women experienced IPV during the 10 years after having their first child. Women experiencing recent IPV (19.1%) reported worse physical and mental health than women not reporting IPV. Compared with women not reporting IPV, women experiencing recent IPV had higher odds of poor functional health status (Adj OR=4.5, 95% CI 3.2 to 6.3), back pain (Adj OR=2.0, 95% CI 1.4 to 2.9), incontinence (Adj OR=1.8, 95% CI 1.2 to 2.6), depressive symptoms (Adj OR=4.9, 95% CI 3.2 to 7.5), anxiety (Adj OR=5.1, 95% CI 3.0 to 8.6) and post-traumatic stress symptoms (Adj OR=7.2, 95% CI 4.6 to 11.1) at 10 years. Women with past IPV at 1 and/or 4 years (15.7% of the cohort) also had higher odds of physical and mental health problems. There was evidence of a gradient in health outcomes by recency of exposure to IPV. Conclusions Both recent and past exposure to IPV are associated with poor maternal physical and mental health 10 years after a first birth. Health services and advocacy organisations providing support to women need to be aware of the consistent relationship between IPV and a range of physical and mental health conditions, which may persist even after IPV appears to have ceased.


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