Violence, mental health, and physical symptoms in an academic internal medicine practice

Christina Nicolaidis, Mary Ann Curry, Bentson McFarland, Martha Gerrity

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To assess how physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence (IPV), child abuse, and community violence relate to long-term mental and physical problems; to examine the overlap between different forms of violence and the impact of experiencing multiple forms of violence. DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey. SETTING: Three general internal medicine practices affiliated with an academic medical center. PARTICIPANTS: English-speaking women aged 25 to 60. MEASUREMENTS: Telephone or in-person interview and chart review. RESULTS: One hundred seventy-four women completed interviews. A majority of participants experienced more than one form of violence. In separate multivariate analyses, each form of violence was associated with depressive symptoms or with at least 6 chronic physical symptoms, after adjustment for demographic factors and substance abuse. The degree of association with health outcomes was similar for each form of violence (odds ratio [OR], 2.4 to 3.9; P < .003). The association with chronic physical symptoms remained significant for IPV (OR, 3.3; P < .002) and community violence (OR, 3.4; P < .003), even after adjustment for depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. There were dose-response relationships between the number of forms of violence experienced and the odds of depressive symptoms and the odds of multiple chronic physical symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: Multiple types of victimizations may contribute to patients' current mental health and physical problems. Research or clinical protocols that only focus on one form of violence may underestimate the complexity of women's experiences and needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)819-827
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2004


  • Child abuse
  • Depression
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Physical symptoms
  • Sexual assault

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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