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Global WHO survey: poor physical and mental health more prevalent among women who have experienced intimate partner violence

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Is intimate partner violence and domestic violence linked to physical and mental health problems in women?


19 568 inhabitants of 10 countries who had ever had a partner.


Global study representing people from 10 countries (15 sites) in the WHO multi-country study on women’s health and domestic violence against women; interviews carried out 2000–2003.


Interviews were conducted in person by female interviewers in a community setting using a standardised questionnaire. Women were asked whether they had experienced physical or sexual violence at the hand of a current or previous partner at any time in their life or in the previous 12 months. Women responding yes were then asked for details of the incidents. Other questions included self-rated health and whether they experienced any of the following physical symptoms in the previous 4 weeks: difficulty walking or with daily activities, pain, memory loss, dizziness and vaginal discharge. The Self Report Questionnaire (SRQ-20) was used to screen for emotional distress (asking about symptoms such as crying, …

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    It is not possible to determine whether exposure to violence occurred before physical or mental health problems. Certain factors that may be responsible for the increase in health problems (eg, alcohol abuse) were not considered. The details of the study method varied between countries, including the definition of "ever-partnered women", usually defined as a woman who had ever married or lived with a partner, but including non-cohabiting sexual partners in Japan, Namibia and Peru.

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