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The Connection Between Intimate Partner Violence and Health Disparities

In “Race, Ethnicity, and Health: An Intersectional Approach,” Weber and Fore address health disparities common amongst ethnic minorities. Because of socially constructed hierarchies, American citizens are experiencing drastically different health outcomes. I found one aspect of their research particularly interesting. With our country’s growing focus on research in biomedicine and genetics, attention is diverted from population-based social interventions that have the ability to prevent many of the health inequalities present today. One striking statistic states, “the vast majority of health care spending, as much as 95 percent by some estimates, is directed toward medical care and biomedical research. However, there is strong evidence that behavior and environment are responsible for over 70 percent of avoidable mortality…” (Institute of Medicine, 2002, p. 2). In order to better understand these health disparities, we need to address the issue of racism and the social structures that enable it.

Image(Image: Women’s Aid)

In relation to trauma and violence, research has been done on the connection between higher levels of intimate partner violence (IPV) in African-American women, and consequently, various health disparities. Sharps and Campbell state that, “among African American women between the ages of 15 to 24 years, IPV is the leading cause of premature death from homicide and injury from non lethal causes.” The researchers also suggest a connection between IPV and health disparities, “since low income and underemployment are most common among women of color, the increase in rates of IPV experienced among them must be considered as a potential cause of disparities in health conditions shown to be associated with IPV.” It is very possible that if there is a lack of intervention options available for African-American women, IPV continues to be a complicated issue that only leads to further racial stigmatization and health disparities.


Sharps, Phyllis W., and Jacquelyn C. Campbell. “Http://”Family Violence Prevention and Health Practice. Print.


One response to “The Connection Between Intimate Partner Violence and Health Disparities

  1. saraketcham ⋅

    I think the two statistics that you quote hit the issue right on the head. We spend a disproportionate amount of money biomedicine and genetics when behavior and environment is known to greatly influence cases of preventable mortality. It’s as if there’s a roadblock in the discussion of comprehensive health, and because we don’t really consider race and social issues in health, it becomes near impossible to address problems like intimate partner violence, which depend on race, which itself influences health. The chain of events and characteristics that affect health is very long and complicated, and just as you said, how we spend our research money does not reflect this.

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