Battered and brain injured: Traumatic brain injury among women survivors of intimate partner violence – A scoping review.

Author(s): 
Haag, H.L., Jones, D., Joseph, T. & Colantonio, A. (2019).
Source: 
Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 1-18.
Type of Profession:
Keywords:
Summary: 

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious consequence of intimate partner violence (IPV) that is often overlooked or misdiagnosed. Repeated trauma to the head can cause brain tissue degeneration resulting in fatigue, depression and mood changes, memory loss, confusion, aggression, impaired judgment, and difficulty with everyday tasks and can lead to dementia and other chronic health conditions. The purpose of this review of the literature was to gain an understanding of prevalence, investigate screening tool use, generate IPV/TBI-specific support recommendations, and identify suggestions for future research.

Abstract: 

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious consequence of intimate partner violence (IPV) that is often overlooked or misdiagnosed (Corrigan, Wolfe, Mysiw, Jackson, & Bogner, 2003; St. Ivany & Schminkey, 2016). IPV-related TBI can have debilitating long-term effects on a survivor’s overall function and independence and may masquerade as a number of other physical, social, and mental health issues, preventing survivors from receiving appropriate intervention by health and community professionals (Iverson & Pagoda, 2015; Kwako et al., 2011). Exposure to TBI through IPV tends to be long term in nature. Women are often exposed to repeated violent encounters before calling police, go through numerous attempts before permanently leaving an abuser, and are at the highest risk of being murdered when attempting to leave or report (Banks, 2007; Car, 2000). Repeated trauma to the head can cause brain tissue degeneration resulting in fatigue, depression and mood changes, memory loss, confusion, aggression, impaired judgment, and difficulty with everyday tasks and can lead to dementia and other chronic health conditions (Langlois, Rutland-Brown, & Wald, 2006).

The objective of this review was to examine the extent, range, and nature of literature targeting health-care professionals on the prevalence and outcome of intimate partner violence (IPV)-related TBI. The purpose was to gain an understanding of prevalence, investigate screening tool use, generate IPV/TBI-specific support recommendations, and identify suggestions for future research.

The review involved a comprehensive search of nine databases revealed 1,739 articles. In total, 42 published research papers that focused specifically on TBI secondary to IPV were included in the study. The literature reports inconsistencies in prevalence rates from IPV-related TBI. There are no current standardized screening practices in use, though the literature calls for a specialized tool. Frontline professionals would benefit from education on signs and symptoms of IPV-related TBI. Empirical studies are needed to generate reliable data on prevalence, experience, and needs of brain-injured survivors of TBI.

Findings from this study demonstrate the need for the development of an IPV-sensitive screening tool, more accurate data on prevalence, an interprofessional approach to care, and raised awareness and education on the diffuse symptoms of IPV-related TBI.

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