Health Services Research
Every year thousands of women experience intimate partner violence (IPV), receiving injuries such as battery to the face, head, and neck, a pattern of violence potentially causing permanent traumatic brain injury (TBI). Despite elevated rates of TBI in women survivors of IPV and significant implications for women’s health and wellbeing, this remains an underexplored area. While research addressing the identification and support of women survivors of IPV with resultant TBI is limited worldwide, there is an emerging body of literature exploring this intersection. Our objective was to provide the first scoping review of the current literature exploring the intersection of IPV and TBI. Building on existing literature reviews, our purpose was to systematically map all that is currently published on IPV-related TBI and to report findings for use in research and practice.
Objective(s) : To systematically map all that is currently published on intimate partner violence (IPV)-related traumatic brain injury (TBI) and report findings for use in research and practice.
Data Sources : Nine health science databases were searched using 2 keyword categories: (1) domestic violence, spousal abuse, intimate partner violence (IPV), interpersonal violence, battered women, intimate violence; and (2) traumatic brain injury (TBI), concussion, head injury, post concussion syndrome, strangulation, choking, face injury, neck injury. Not delimited by time frame.
Study Selection : Articles had to be peer reviewed, available in English, and explicitly address the intersection of TBI and IPV. Researchers independently completed a title and abstract reviews. Articles were excluded because they: (1) lacked relevance to TBI and IPV; (2) focused on children; (3) addressed IPV or TBI as distinct or unrelated; or (4) emphasized the perpetrator role. The initial search returned 1,739 articles.
Data Extraction : Three researchers independently extracted data and compared findings. With an additional hand search, 42 articles were included in the final sample and organized into four domains: (1) prevalence estimates; (2) screening tools and identification; (3) recommendations for healthcare professionals; and (4) recommendations for research.
Data Synthesis : Prevalence rates ranged from 19% to 100% with challenges in sampling, definitions, identification, and study design noted. With no validated tools to detect IPV-related TBI, the development of a screening protocol and tool were strongly recommended. While the 42 articles sampled provide foundational understanding, with only 22 empirical studies the need for further exploration is apparent.
Conclusions : Accurate prevalence figures, short and long-term impacts, and appropriate identification protocols are critical knowledge gaps. Research is needed exploring support providers’ IPV/TBI knowledge, motivations/deterrents for survivor disclosure, and support strategies across community and healthcare settings.