February 1991

Deleterious Effects of Criminal Victimization on Women's Health and Medical Utilization

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Psychiatry (Dr M. P. Koss) and Psychology (Ms Woodruff), University of Arizona, Tucson; and Department of Internal Medicine, Thomas-Davis Medical Centers (Dr P. G. Koss), Tucson.

Arch Intern Med. 1991;151(2):342-347. doi:10.1001/archinte.1991.00400020092019

The long-term consequences of criminal victimization on physical health were examined among 390 adult women (74 nonvictims and 316 victims of crime). Data included health status self-ratings and objective service utilization. Findings indicated that severely victimized women, compared with nonvictims, reported more distress and less well-being, made physician visits twice as frequently in the index year, and had outpatient costs that were 2.5 times greater. Criminal victimization severity was the most powerful predictor of physician visits and outpatient costs. Utilization data across 5 years preceding and following crime were obtained from 15 rape victims, 26 physical assault victims, and 27 noncontact crime victims and were compared with five continuous years of utilization among 26 nonvictims. Victims' physician visits increased 15% to 24% during the year of the crime compared with less than 2% change among nonvictims. We conclude that these long-term deleterious effects suggest that criminally victimized women's needs for medical treatment transcend the traditional focus on emergency care and forensic evaluation.

(Arch Intern Med. 1991;151:342-347)