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Intimate partner violence-related traumatic brain injury in a sample of female Veterans.

Iverson KM, Pogoda TK. Intimate partner violence-related traumatic brain injury in a sample of female Veterans. Poster session presented at: Boston University Medical Campus / VA Boston Joining Forces TBI/PTSD Annual Conference; 2014 Nov 4; Boston, MA.


Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is prevalent among women Veterans and is known to increase women's risk for traumatic brain injury (TBI). IPV-related TBI has not been examined in the women Veteran population. Objectives: To identify the occurrence of IPV-related TBI in a sample of women Veterans and examine the associations of IPV-related TBI with sociodemographic characteristics, health symptoms, healthcare utilization, and IPV experiences. Research Design: Cross-sectional mail survey conducted in 2013. Subjects: The sample comprised 176 New England Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) women Veteran patients. Measures: Self-reported IPV-related TBI was assessed with a modified VA TBI screening tool. The survey included validated measures of depression (CES-D) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD; PCL) symptoms, as well as overall mental and physical health (SF-12), and IPV (CTS-2). Questions assessed past-year VA and non-VA healthcare use. Results: 18.8% (n = 33) met screening criteria for IPV-related TBI history. Women who experienced IPV-related TBI reported significantly higher depression (mean CES-D scores: 26.6 versus 20.7, p < .0001) and PTSD (mean PCL scores: 53.2 versus 34.1, p < .0001) symptoms, and poorer perceptions of physical health (mean SF-12 34.6 versus 42.3, p < .01) than women who experienced IPV to the head without TBI. IPV-related TBI was also associated with poorer perceptions of mental health, as well as more frequent VA healthcare utilization and overall IPV. Conclusions: IPV-related TBI is associated with poorer mental and physical health in women Veterans. This invisible injury is associated with greater VA healthcare utilization and IPV exposure. Implications for VA practice and policy are discussed.

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