THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS, DEPRESSION SYMPTOMS AND PHYSICAL HEALTH OVER TIME IN WOMEN WITH INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE
Degree awarded: Ph.D. Psychology. American University
The current study examined the associations between post-traumatic stress, depression symptoms and physical health in the context of a larger longitudinal study of battered women's experiences over time. Two hundred and forty-nine help-seeking women who had experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) within the last year were interviewed. Cross-sectional and longitudinal regression analyses examined how battered women's mental health symptoms predicted health outcomes and vice versa. Common experiences reported by women with IPV were controlled for including severity of violence, substance use and childhood violence. Results obtained suggest different outcomes for concurrent and short and long-term longitudinal analyses. Concurrent results show that PTSD was uniquely associated with physical health. Short-term analyses (4-6 months) revealed an association between depression symptoms and physical health outcomes whereas long-term analyses (1.5 years) suggest that physical health is most influenced by the underlying distress shared by PTSD and depression symptoms. These differential findings suggest that the passage of time may be influential when examining the complex relationship between mental health symptoms and physical health in an IPV population.