J Gen Intern Med 25:920-925.
Group Health Research Institute, Seattle, WA, USA
BACKGROUND: Research has documented greater health care costs attributable to intimate partner violence (IPV) among women during and after exposure. However, no studies have determined whether health care costs for abused women return to baseline levels at some point after their abuse ceases.
OBJECTIVE: We examine whether health care costs among women exposed to IPV converge with those of non-abused women during a 10-year period following the end of exposure.
DESIGN: Retrospective cohort analysis.
SETTING: Group Health Cooperative, a large integrated health care system in the Pacific Northwest.
PARTICIPANTS: Random sample of English-speaking women aged 18-64 enrolled within Group Health and who participated in a telephone survey between June 2003 and August 2005.
MEASUREMENTS: Total health care costs over an 11-year period from January 1, 1992 to December 31, 2002 were compiled using automated health plan data and comparisons made among women exposed to IPV since age 18 and those who never experienced IPV. IPV included physical, sexual, or psychological violence involving an intimate partner, and was assessed using five questions from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
RESULTS: Relative to women with no IPV history, total health care costs were significantly higher during IPV exposure, costs that were sustained for 3 years following the end of exposure. By the 4th year following the end of exposure to IPV, health care costs among IPV-exposed women were similar to non-abused women, and this pattern held for the remainder of the 10-year study period.
CONCLUSIONS: Policy makers should consider the ongoing needs of victims following abuse exposure. Interventions to reduce the prevalence of IPV or to mitigate the impact of IPV have the potential to reduce the rate of growth of health care costs.
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