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Physical injuries resulting from intimate partner violence and disclosure to healthcare providers: results from a New Zealand population-based study

Abstract

Background Few studies document the health burden attributable to intimate partner violence (IPV) at the population level.

Objectives To document injuries resulting from IPV and women's use of healthcare for treatment of IPV injuries using the New Zealand Violence Against Women Study.

Methods A cross-sectional household survey was conducted using a population-based cluster sampling scheme. In total, 2855 women aged 18–64 years were interviewed about their experience of IPV, injuries resulting from violence, and their use of healthcare services.

Results Of the 956 women who had experienced physical and/or sexual IPV in their lifetime, half were injured at least once as a result of the violence. The most common injuries were abrasions and bruises; followed by cuts, punctures, bites; and injuries to the eye or ear. Many women reported that they needed healthcare for treatment of IPV injuries, yet most (86%) did not receive healthcare on all occasions it was needed. Half of ever-injured women who received treatment told a healthcare provider the reason for their injury. Among those who did not disclose, shame was the most frequent reason for not telling, followed by fear of further violence.

Conclusions This population-based study documents the injury-burden created by IPV, to individuals, healthcare systems, and the population. Implications include supporting healthcare providers to respond to victims of violence and the need for prevention strategies at the population level

  • Injury
  • intimate partner violence
  • healthcare utilisation
  • healthcare inquiry
  • New Zealand
  • gender
  • violence
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