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Intimate partner violence and chronic pain among
Chinese women

Chan, Chee-hon.; 陳之翰.

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2010

http://hdl.handle.net/10722/133209

The author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent
rights) and the right to use in future works.

Intimate partner violence and chronic pain
among Chinese women

By

Chee Hon CHAN

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Philosophy
at the University of Hong Kong

November 2010

Abstract of thesis entitled
Intimate partner violence and chronic pain among Chinese women Submitted by
Chee Hon CHAN
for the degree of Master of Philosophy
at The University of Hong Kong
in November 2010

Introduction: Intimate partner violence is a serious public health problem and has a profound impact on women’s health. One of the health problems associated with intimate partner violence is chronic pain. Yet, little is known about the experience of and factors influencing chronic pain in women survivors of intimate partner violence (hereafter known as abused women).

Aims: This study aimed (1) to compare the prevalence and the severity level of chronic pain between abused and non-abused women; (2) to identify the traumatic events influencing abused women’s chronic pain; (3) to investigate the mediating role of physical injury, post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, and depressive symptoms in the relationship between intimate partner violence and chronic pain; and (4) to evaluate the mechanism by which perceived social support influences the relationship between intimate partner violence and health outcomes, including physical injury, post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, depressive symptoms, and chronic pain.

Methods: A cross-sectional, quantitative study was conducted. Chinese women aged 18 or above were recruited via advertisements in one community center and three domestic violence shelters in Hong Kong. Participants were interviewed using a questionnaire to elicit their experience of intimate partner violence, lifetime traumatic events, physical injury, post-traumatic

stress disorder symptoms, depressive symptoms, perceived social support, and demographic characteristics.
Results: A total of 410 Chinese women, comprising of 82 abused women living in shelters, 228 abused women living in the community, and 100 non-abused women, were recruited in this study. It was found that 64% of the abused women from the shelter, 22% of the abused women from the community, and 10% of the non-abused women had experienced chronic pain for more than three months. Shelter- and community-based abused women were significantly more likely to experience chronic pain than their non-abused counterparts. Forced sex before the age of 16 and physical and/or sexual assault by an intimate partner were significantly associated with the occurrence of chronic pain. Using structural equation model analysis, it was found that psychological abuse had a significant negative impact on women’s chronic pain. The relationship between psychological abuse and chronic pain was significantly mediated by post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. Physical assault was not found to significantly affect chronic pain. In addition, perceived social support was found to have a significant protective effect on women’s post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, depressive symptoms, and chronic pain. However, perceived social support was found to be negatively affected by psychological abuse. Collectively, findings revealed that psychological abuse compromised women’s perceived social support and the diminution of women’s perceived social support aggravated their severity of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, depressive symptoms, and chronic pain. Conclusion: This study identified that both post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and perceived social support served as a pathway to link intimate partner...
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