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Study Finds Partner Abuse, Unmet Mental Health Needs Go Together
Hispanic women who experience partner violence are four times more likely to report an unmet need for mental health treatment than Hispanic women who have not been abused, according to a study by researchers at The University of Texas School of Public Health.
The study, “Impact of Intimate Partner Violence on Unmet Need for Mental Health Care,” was published in the June issue of Psychiatric Services, a publication of the American Psychiatric Association. It was underwritten with a grant from the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse.
“Hispanics are at a higher likelihood than whites or blacks of having unmet needs,” said Raul Caetano, M.D., Ph.D., professor and regional dean of the Dallas campus of the UT School of Public Health, who co-authored the report with Sherry Lipsky, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology.
“Most services are more prepared to meet the needs of the white population,” Caetano said. “Identifying the needs of ethnic minority clients is important because these clients have special requirements, as for instance, they need to interact with providers that are fluent in Spanish to have their needs met.”
Using the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the study analyzed 7,924 black, non-white Hispanic and Hispanic women ages 18 to 49 who were cohabitating. Earlier studies have found that women who encounter intimate partner violence commonly develop mental disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
The report also cited an earlier study that concluded that an abused woman’s ability to manage a crisis of partner violence, her ability or motivation to terminate an abusive relationship or make safety plans, and her overall psychosocial functioning may be significantly affected by untreated co-morbid mental health problems.
“This study suggests that women who experience partner violence, especially Hispanic women, are at an increased risk of not receiving needed mental health care,” the authors conclude. “These findings highlight the need for culturally sensitive and specific out-reach about the effects of partner violence on women’s mental health and how to access these services.”
By Deborah Mann Lake, Institutional Advancement