Intimate partner piolence, health Behaviours, and chronic physical illness among South African women
Methods. Using data from the cross-sectional, nationally representative South Africa Stress and Health Study, we assessed exposure to intimate partner violence, health-risk behaviours, health-seeking behaviours and chronic physical illness among a sample of 1 229 married and cohabiting women.
Results. The prevalence of reported violence was 31%. This correlated with several health-risk behaviours (smoking, alcohol consumption, and use of non-medical sedatives, analgesics and cannabis) and health-seeking behaviours (recent visits to a medical doctor or healer). Intimate partner violence was not significantly associated with chronic physical illness, although rates of headache, heart attack and high blood pressure reached near-significance.
Conclusions. Partner violence against women is a significant public health problem in South Africa, associated with health-risk behaviours and increased use of medical services. Public health programmes should incorporate interventions to mitigate the impact of violence on victims and reduce the risk of negative behavioural outcomes. Further investigation of the pathways between violence exposure and health behaviours is needed to inform the design of such programming.
Jesse D Gass, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
Dan J Stein, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cape Town
David R Williams, Harvard School of Public Health
Soraya Seedat, MRC Anxiety & Stress Disorders Unit, Department of Psychiatry, University of Stellenbosch
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Date published: 2010-09-07
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