The Relationship of Intimate Partner Violence to Health-related Quality of Life Among Couples During the Transition to Parenthood

By Alina Sotskova, Michelle Coghlan and Erica Woodin.

Published by The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society

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Transition to parenthood can be a high-stress period for both partners. Partner violence among couples has been associated with increased stress, depression and reduced quality of life. Research also shows a link between intimate partner violence (IPV) and substance misuse, such that substance misuse often precedes IPV, and IPV is a risk factor for escalation of substance misuse. However, research investigating the effects of IPV and substance misuse on the health and quality of life of couples during the transition to parenthood is limited.
In this study, the relationship between IPV, substance misuse, selected social factors and quality of life was examined. Cross-sectional data was collected from ninety-eight cohabitating couples in mid-sized city in British Columbia, Canada who were expecting their first child. Couples attended the research laboratory where they completed self-administered questionnaires. The questionnaires included questions on IPV, substance use, various psychosocial scales (i.e., perceived stress, social support), and quality of life, as measured by the WHO Quality of Life Scale (WHOQOL-BREF). Using regression analyses, the experiences of IPV were examined as potential determinants of quality of life across four domains (physical, psychological, social and environmental) after controlling for substance misuse and other social factors. Results provide support for the hypothesized relationship between IPV and quality of life, but they varied by gender. For women, psychological aggression in the relationship was inversely related to physical, psychological, social and environmental quality of life domains. For men, psychological aggression was inversely related to social and environmental quality of life domains only. The results suggest that IPV might have a negative impact on health-related quality of life independent of substance misuse, and that different forms of IPV are related to differential consequences for men and women.

Keywords: Intimate Partner Violence, Substance Misuse, Health-related Quality of Life

The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp.141-160. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 826.576KB).

Alina Sotskova

M.Sc. Student, Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada

I am currently pursuing an MSc in Clinical Psychology at the University of Victoria, BC, Canada. My research interests include emotional, physical, and sexual trauma, intimate partner violence, and substance misuse. I am currently investigating how history of trauma and current post-traumatic stress affect relationships in couples. I am also interested in the relationship between trauma, intimate partner violence, and substance misuse in couples and families. I am interested in integrating community-based, qualitative, and quantitative research methods in designing research studies with improved ecological validity. My future research goals include conducting research and developing holistic, evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies that would help couples and families cope with these difficulties.

Michelle Coghlan

Ph.D. Student, Centre for Addictions Research of BC, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada

I am currently a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology and the Centre for Addictions Research of BC, at the University of Victoria, Canada. My research interests include sociological and ethnographic studies of drug use and health among vulnerable populations, risk behaviours, social, cultural and environmental contexts of drug-related harms, violence and abuse, and research with crack cocaine users, sex workers, and marginalized youth. My dissertation research, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) in conjunction with Intersections of Mental Health Perspectives in Addictions Research Training (IMPART), focuses on the health and social characteristics of women who use crack cocaine, including the social dynamics of gender marginalization and harm consequences of crack cocaine use in Canada.

Dr. Erica Woodin

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada

I am currently an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Victoria, BC, Canada. My research focuses on close relationships, with particular attention to factors such as conflict and aggression, substance use, and mental health problems that can often lead to relationship difficulties. My goals are to examine the development of harmful relationship behaviours; to understand the impact of these factors on partners, couples, and children; and to develop prevention programs to enhance couple and family functioning during periods of stress and change (e.g., transition to adulthood, transition to cohabitation, transition to parenthood). I am currently conducting a study examining various predictors of risk and resiliency during the transition to parenthood.