Older African American women exposed to high levels of family violence during their lifetimes are at significantly greater risk of poor health status.

Higher lifetime exposure among older African American women to family violence, which may include intimate partner violence and elder maltreatment, is linked to worse physical and mental health, regardless of when the exposure occurred.

Researchers from Temple University School of Medicine (Philadelphia, PA) and Emory University School of Medicine (Atlanta, GA), used a survey to assess lifetime family violence levels, including physical violence, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse, neglect, and coercion.

They studied 158 African American women 50 years of age or older attending ambulatory medicine clinics at a large inner-city public hospital in the southeastern U.S. The authors also gathered measures of the women’s physical and mental health status.

In the article entitled, “Lifetime Exposure to Family Violence: Implications for the Health Status of Older African American Women,” the authors conclude that a holistic approach to caring for older African American women should include greater awareness by clinicians of current and past violence exposure and the negative effects it may have on the health status of these women.

“This study provides further evidence of the enduring harmful effects that family violence can have on both mental and physical health, and in particular it highlights the association between such exposure and the health of older African American women,” says Susan G. Kornstein, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Women’s Health.

The new report is found in the current issue of Journal of Women’s Health, a peer-reviewed journal.

Source: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News