Women Veterans Who Experienced Past-Year Intimate Partner Violence are Significantly More Susceptible to Housing Instability
During FY 2016, the rate of positive screens on VA's universal screen for homelessness and risk was approximately 40% higher among women. Pathways to homelessness are varied and complex, and include traumatic life experiences. Intimate partner violence (IPV) – violence or abuse perpetrated by a current or former intimate partner – is a significant pathway to homelessness and occurs more often among women who have served in the military. Approximately 19% of women Veterans who use VA primary care report past-year IPV. This is the first study to use VA clinical screening data to assess the relationship between recent experience of IPV and housing instability among women Veterans. Investigators also examined sociodemographic, military service, and mental health correlates to help explain experiences of housing instability among women Veterans with past-year IPV. The study cohort comprised 8,427 women Veterans who responded to a routine clinical screen for past-year IPV between April 2014 and April 2016 at 13 VA facilities across the U.S. Among these Veterans, 8% screened positive for IPV and 11% had some indicator of housing instability in their medical records.
- Female Veteran patients who screened positive for past-year IPV had up to four times the odds of experiencing housing instability.
- Women Veterans who screened positive for past-year IPV were significantly more likely to have an indicator of housing instability if they identified as Black or African American, previously screened positive for military sexual trauma, had a mental health diagnosis, or a substance use disorder.
- Women Veterans receiving compensation for a disability incurred during military service – and those who were married – were significantly less likely to have an indicator of housing instability.
- IPV interventions should assess for both physical and psychological housing needs, and housing interventions should coordinate with IPV programs to address common barriers to resources.
- The measure of IPV is based on Veterans' reports in clinical screening; this may represent an undercount of the occurrence of IPV among this population given barriers patients may have faced in disclosing IPV experiences in the clinical setting.
- Women Veterans may have received housing-related assistance through non-VA, community-based providers, and may not have had an indicator of housing instability in VA data.
This study was partly funded by HSR&D (IIR 13-334 and IIR 15-142) and an intramural grant through the National Center on Homelessness among Veterans. Dr. Montgomery is with VA's National Center on Homelessness among Veterans and the Birmingham VAMC. All other authors are with HSR&D's Center for Health Equity Research & Promotion (CHERP).
Montgomery AE, Sorrentino AE, Cusack MC, Bellamy S, Medvedeva E, Roberts CB, and Dichter ME. Recent Intimate Partner Violence and Housing Instability among Women Veterans. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. April 2018;54(4):584-90.