The American Medical Association’s (AMA’s) National Advisory Council on Violence and Abuse convened violence prevention and health experts on April 16 to brief congressional staff about how victims exposed to violence and abuse access health care more frequently and at a greater cost than those without that history. Experts said that physical, sexual and psychological violence can have a significant impact on victims’ long-term health, and that effective intervention and prevention strategies can decrease the health care costs associated with the short- and long-term consequences of abuse paid by private and public insurers.
Studies show that women who have experienced domestic violence are 80 percent more likely to have a stroke, 70 percent more likely to have heart disease, 60 percent more likely to have asthma and 70 percent more likely to drink heavily than women who have not experienced intimate partner violence. Children who experience childhood trauma, including witnessing incidents of domestic violence, are at a greater risk of having serious adult health problems including tobacco use, substance abuse, obesity, cancer, heart disease, depression and a higher risk for unintended pregnancy.
The briefing featured: Phaedra Corso, Ph.D., University of Georgia; David Corwin, M.D., AMA’s National Advisory Council on Violence and Abuse Chair; W. Rodney Hammond, Ph.D., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Connie Mitchell, California Medical Association and University of California, Davis; and Kiersten Stewart, Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF).
“Dating, domestic and sexual violence and child abuse are health care problems of epidemic proportions in this country,” FVPF Public Policy Director Stewart said. “Violence has immediate health consequences through injury, but it also can cause life-threatening conditions that affect survivors and witnesses throughout their lives.”