Rural Versus Urban Prevalence of Intimate Partner Violence

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project funded:
September 2018
Project completed:
January 2021

Intimate partner violence (IPV) includes physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, psychological aggression, and reproductive control by a current or former boyfriend or girlfriend, domestic partner, or spouse. Lifetime prevalence of IPV is similar for women (37.3%) and men (30.9%), although women experience greater number of incidents and more severe physical abuse. IPV is a major public health issue that adversely impacts physical and mental health, and quality of life. Previous data are equivocal regarding rural-urban disparities in prevalence of IPV. Recent data indicate prevalence might be similar in rural and urban populations, but hospitalizations related to IPV are greater in rural areas, suggesting difficulty accessing preventive services to intervene before violence escalates. Areas with few services are also associated with higher levels of IPV-related homicide.

A handful of studies have examined rural versus urban differences in IPV prevalence in the U.S. Rural and low-income communities are especially affected by lack of access to preventive services for IPV, including access to regular healthcare and routine screening for IPV. There is a need for more recent nationwide data to understand rural-urban disparities in IPV and to inform policy recommendations aimed at improving health outcomes for persons exposed to IPV. This retrospective study examined the prevalence of IPV-related hospitalizations by rural and urban status and U.S. Census regions using data from the national Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project for years 2009-2014. If possible, a more detailed analysis will be done using the 6-level NCHS Urban-Rural Classification Scheme for Counties. This proposal will also examine differences by age, gender, and race and ethnicity.