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Effects of Intimate Partner Violence During COVID-19 and Pandemic-Related Stress on the Mental and Physical Health of Women Veterans.
Iverson KM, Dardis CM, Cowlishaw S, Webermann AR, Shayani DR, Dichter ME, Mitchell KS, Mattocks KM, Gerber MR, Portnoy GR. Effects of Intimate Partner Violence During COVID-19 and Pandemic-Related Stress on the Mental and Physical Health of Women Veterans. Journal of general internal medicine. 2022 Sep 1; 37(Suppl 3):724-733.
Little is known about women veterans' intimate partner violence (IPV) experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic or the impacts of pandemic-related stress on their mental and physical health.
To identify IPV experiences among women veterans prior to and during the pandemic, pandemic-related stressors, and examine their respective contributions to mental and physical health.
National sample of women veterans drawn from a larger web-based longitudinal study. Relationships between recent IPV and pandemic-related stressors were tested with linear regressions, controlling for pre-pandemic IPV and mental and physical health symptoms, demographic, and military-related covariates.
One hundred forty-two women veterans (M = 58.8 years).
We assessed IPV (CTS-2), PTSD (PCL-5), depression (CESD), anxiety (DASS-A), physical health (PHQ-15), and physical health-related quality of life (SF-12) prior to the pandemic (June 2016-December 2016/January 2017) and during the pandemic study period (March 2020-December 2020/January 2021). We assessed pandemic-related stressors (EPII) during the pandemic study period.
Over a third (38.7%) of participants experienced IPV during the pandemic study period (psychological: 35.9%, physical: 9.9%, sexual: 4.2%). Overall rates, frequency, and severity of IPV experience did not significantly differ between the pre-pandemic and pandemic study periods. Few participants tested positive for COVID-19 (4.2%); however, most participants reported experiencing pandemic-related stressors across life domains (e.g., social activities: 88%, physical health: 80.3%, emotional health: 68.3%). IPV during the pandemic and pandemic-related stressors were both associated with greater PTSD and depressive symptoms. Pandemic-related stressors were associated with worse anxiety and physical health symptoms. Neither IPV during the pandemic nor pandemic-related stressors were associated with physical health-related quality of life.
IPV experiences during the pandemic were common among women veterans, as were pandemic-related stressors. Although IPV did not increase in the context of COVID-19, IPV experiences during the pandemic and pandemic-related stressors were linked with poorer mental and physical health.