Published October 18, 2019
Congratulations to MPH/MSW student Paige Iovine-Wong and her colleagues on the publication of their article "Intimate partner violence, suicide, and their overlapping risk in women veterans: A review of the literature."
Iovine-Wong, P., Nichols-Hadeed, C., Thompson Stone, J., Gamble, S., Cross, W., Cerulli, C., & Levandowski, B. (2019). Intimate partner violence, suicide, and their overlapping risk in women veterans: A review of the literature. Military Medicine.
Suicidal thoughts and behaviors (STB) and intimate partner violence (IPV) are both serious and prevalent problems in the Veteran population that often occur in tandem, particularly among women Veterans. Women Veterans, the fastest growing segment of the Veteran population, may have unique overlapping risks that are worth exploring. Although the intersection of IPV and STB is well documented in the civilian population, it has not been thoroughly explored in women Veterans.
Materials and Methods
Using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) framework, we conducted a systematic review of the STB and IPV literature specifically related to women Veterans. We only included articles that sampled women Veterans, rather than active duty/reservist/National Guard women; due to the small volume of STB research using samples of only women Veterans, we included studies that used mixed-gender samples. We extracted risk factors for STB and/or IPV involvement from 56 selected articles and placed them into tables for comparison to determine commonalities.
Common risk factors fell into three categories: socio-demographic risk factors (young age, unemployment, and sexual minority status) were significant across both bodies of literature; mental health risk factors (general psychopathology, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, sleep disturbance, and substance use/abuse) also had significant overlap; and military service-related risk factors (military sexual trauma (MST) and deployment factors) were also relevant across both bodies of literature. Mental health risk factors, particularly PTSD, were the most common.
Frequently, the risk factors for IPV and STB are shared and it is important to consider how research, screening and intervention efforts for these serious problems might be integrated. Our exploration of the literature may be used as a basis for future research with women Veterans on the intersection of STB and IPV. Further, Veterans Health Administration clinicians should be aware of these intersecting risk factors to enhance care and improve screening for both issues in women Veteran clients.