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Domestic violence and abuse: the costs to health

A substantial amount of NHS resources go into services for victims of violence. The impact over time of different types of abuse and of multiple episodes of abuse appears to be cumulative. Given the long-term impact of violence on women's health, women who have suffered abuse are more likely to be long-term users of health services, thereby increasing health care costs.

There are three main elements in the cost of GP services: the consultation itself; prescriptions consequent to the consultation; travel and opportunity costs to the patient. Survivors who are subject to forms of wounding that involve sustaining serious or slight injuries make an average of three visits more to a GP than an average person. [1]

On average, survivors of abuse experience more operative surgery, more visits by and to doctors, more hospital stays, more visits to pharmacies and more mental health consultations over their lifetime than non-victims. Women who have depression, PTSD or are suicidal as a result of DVA have approximately twice the level of usage of general medical services and between three and eight times the level of usage of mental health services. [2] They are admitted to hospital more often than are non-abused women and are issued more prescriptions.

  1. Walby S, Allen J. Domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking: finding from the British Crime Survey. Home Office Research Study 276. London, Home Office, 2004
  2. Ulrich Y et al. Medical care utilisation patterns in women with diagnosed domestic violence. AM. J. Preventive Med 2003; 24(1): 9-15