Background: The long-term effects of intimate partner violence (IPV) on physical health outcomes, and health-related behaviours are under researched in comparison to the effects on mental health and pregnancy. This systematic review examines the recent research in this area from 2012 through 2019.
Method: SCOPUS, PubMed, EBSCOhost and grey literature were searched using the keywords intimate partner violence and health. To meet inclusion criteria, studies needed to be original research, and focus on IPV during adulthood and its effects on the physical health, or health-related behaviours of women. 52 studies were qualitatively analysed, with results grouped into broad categories of effects, including cardiovascular, endocrine, infectious diseases, and health screening.
Results: IPV was shown to have negative effects on physical health outcomes for women, including worsening the symptoms of menopause and increasing the risk of developing diabetes, contracting sexually transmitted infections, engaging in risk-taking behaviours including the abuse of drugs and alcohol, and developing chronic diseases and pain. It also has significant effects on HIV outcomes, worsening CD4+ cell depletion. Results varied regarding the effects of IPV on cardiovascular health outcomes.
Discussion and Implications for practice: The result of this review demonstrates that women who have experienced violence and abuse are at significantly increased risk of poor health outcomes in a variety of areas and so require specialised and tailored primary care. This review highlights significant gaps in this field of research, particularly in relation to cardiovascular disease, self-reported physical health, and utilisation of health screening services. It demonstrates a need for additional long-term studies in this field to better inform the healthcare of women who have experienced IPV, and to establish the physiological mediators of these outcomes.