Intimate Partner Violence and Alcohol, Drug, and Mental Disorders Among American Indian Women from Southwest Tribes in Primary Care

A study examining the relationship between the severity of intimate partner violence (IPV) and mental disorders among female American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) primary care patients from Southwest tribes found that IPV is common among AI/AN women, and is associated with alcohol, drug and mental health disorders.

The authors of this study used the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) to screen for mental distress among American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) female primary care patients at the Indian Health Service hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico and conducted interviews of women with high GHQ scores.

Key Findings:

  • Women experiencing severe IPV were 60 percent more likely to have an anxiety disorder than women with no experience of IPV.
  • Women with a family history of alcohol were almost 2.5 times as likely to have an anxiety disorder as women not experiencing IPV and without a family history of alcohol.
  • Women experiencing severe IPV were 5 times more likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder than women who were not.
  • IPV did not have a relationship to any mood or mental disorder if there was no family history of alcohol.

The authors recommend routine screening for IPV in primary care settings and point out that the underfunding of programs serving AI/AN populations is a barrier to improving IPV-related mental health outcomes.