Prevalence and Predictors of Intimate Partner Violence in Military Urogynecology Clinic
Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is common, with prevalence in women of 15 to 71% over the lifespan, 4 to 54% currently. Violence is associated with poor health, and may be more common in military populations. A history of abuse is also common in patients with pain, urinary/bowel symptoms, and dyspareunia. Our purpose was to determine the prevalence and predictors of abuse in a military urogynecology clinic. Methods: Patients presenting to a military urogynecology clinic were screened for IPV with the 4-item Hurt-Insult-Threaten-Scream (HITS) screen. Patients' abuse history, reason for visit, and risk factors for IPV were assessed. χ2 and Fisher's exact tests were used for categorical variables. Findings: Out of 142 surveys, only 4 (2.8%) indicated a positive HITS screen (score of 10 or greater on a scale of 4–20), and 39 (27.5%) responded positively to at least one item. These individuals were significantly more likely to have a history of physical abuse or abuse in their families, with at least one positive response in 45.4% of patients with a history of family abuse compared to 20.8% of patients without this history (p = 0.007). The lifetime prevalence of physical abuse by an intimate partner was reported by 10 women (7%). A total of 29 women (20%) reported a history of forced sex and 33 (23%) reported a history of abuse in their family. Participants with a family history of abuse were more likely to have a positive HITS score, relative risk (RR) 2.19 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.29–3.71), p = 0.004, as were those with history of physical abuse RR 2.44 (95% CI 1.35–4.39), p = 0.003 and a history of forced sexual contact, RR 1.73 (95% CI 1.00–3.00), p = 0.049. Race, education, marital status, and employment showed no association with a positive HITS response. Discussion/Impact/Recommendations: The self-reported rate of IPV in a sample of women presenting to a urogynecology clinic in a military setting was 2.8%, below the rate reported in the civilian literature of 4 to 54%. We found that lifetime prevalence of IPV (7%) was also lower than the civilian rate of 15 to 71%. Routine screening for IPV is recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, and the Joint Commission. Even though IPV rates in the military are below civilian rates, IPV affects 3 to 7% of our population and remains a significant and preventable problem affecting women. Conclusions: IPV in military urogynecology patients was lower than the civilian setting; however, women with a history of abuse may be at increased risk of experiencing current IPV, and continued screening is important.