Prevalence of Adult Domestic Violence Among Women Seeking Routine Care in a Native American Health Care Facility
David G. Fairchild, Molly Wilson Fairchild, and Shirley Stoner
Published: American Journal of Public Health, V. 88 (10), 1998, 1515-1517
What is the scope of this study?
This study explores the rate and characteristics of domestic violence among women on the Navajo reservation served by the Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility in Chinle, Arizona.
How was this study conducted?
Researchers surveyed adult women who sought routine care at the ambulatory or maternal-child health care clinics during the week of September 14 or October 19, 1992, respectively. Demographics and domestic violence experiences were assessed, the latter using an instrument by B. Parker and J. McFarlane (Am J Maternal Child Nurs. 1991). Interviewers were either primary health care providers or trained Navajo medical interpreters. The majority (78.9%) of interviews were conducted in English. Twenty-one percent of the interviews were conducted in Navajo - some (7.3%) by a male Navajo-speaking primary care provider. Study participants' responses were statistically analyzed to determine rates and correlates of domestic violence among Native American women seeking routine health care.
What did the survey reveal about domestic violence in this Navajo community?
Ninety-two percent (341) of the eligible adult female clinic patients participated in the survey. This group was representative of the adult female population (N=7456) living at that time on the Navajo reservation served by the Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility.
Rates of domestic violence
Characteristics of domestic violence
- 52.5% reported experiencing at least one incident of domestic violence by a male partner at some time in their lives (cumulative prevalence)
- 16.4% reported current domestic violence (1-year prevalence)
Predictors of domestic violence
- 40.5% reported verbal abuse
- 41.9% reported physical abuse
- 12.1% reported sexual abuse
- 31.7% reported "severe" physical violence
- Most reported more than one type of violence; a few experienced isolated verbal or physical violence; sexual violence never occurred in isolation
Two factors correlated significantly with occurrence of domestic violence:
- The woman being less than 40 years of age
- Living in a household that received governmental financial assistance
What are the implications of these findings?
- The rates of domestic violence found in this study closely matched or exceeded those reported in previous studies drawing on samples from urban emergency rooms, medical staff and a large nationwide survey. Because there is a link between victimization history and increased use of medical care, the authors acknowledge that obtained rates of domestic violence in this study may be overestimates.
- The association between low socio-economic status and domestic violence found in this survey supports previous research linking the two.
- These findings are based on a survey of women living on a Navajo reservation near Chinle, Arizona, and are not generalizable to other Native American communities. Researchers recommend additional studies to confirm their findings, and to explore the prevalence of domestic violence among other Native American communities.
Reviewed by Priscilla Schulz, LCSW
Center for Trauma Recovery
University of Missouri - St. Louis
December 17, 2001
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