Violence has complex and far-reaching effects on health

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A new article by UW Medicine researchers offers a broad and up-to-date look at the related impacts of violence on physical and mental health in all age groups, from newborns to the elderly.

The authors have collected, among others, recent and convincing results on the health effects of child abuse, bullying, youth violence, adult interpersonal violence and abuse on the elderly. The paper was published October 7 in Health Affairs. Its authors represent the Firearms injuries and policy research program, based at the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center.

"Violence has important consequences for physical and mental health. These consequences vary according to the type of violence and age, but they can all be serious, debilitating and lifelong, "said Dr. Fred Rivara, lead author of the document. He is a professor of pediatrics at the School of Washington University Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology at the UW School of Public Health.

"The results of our review underscore the need for both to treat victims of violence and to prevent these types of violence in the first place," said Rivara.

By organizing their findings by age group, the authors highlighted the cumulative and correlated damage to violence throughout the life span. For example, the research found that victims of child abuse have a high risk of depression, suicidality, drug use and some chronic diseases in old age. Because of this risk, they are also more likely to suffer later intimate partner violence, which in turn increases the risk of depression, anxiety, asthma, gastrointestinal disorders, chronic pain and other health problems.

An overview of many types of violence also helps to broaden research and political perspectives beyond immediate physical trauma and draws attention to long-term health impacts. This damage does not only affect people, it also addresses traumatization of family, friends and communities.

"The mental and physical effects of different types of violence have been studied for decades, and it is crucial to bring these pieces together to understand the larger whole," firearms program researcher Brianna Mills, co-author of the newspaper said. and an alumni of the School of Public Health. "Violence does not manifest itself in isolation and our work underlines the importance of understanding the causes and complex repercussions".

Mills will present the team's results on Thursday 10 October in Washington, DC, as part of a national briefing hosted by Health Affairs on violence and health.

In May, Washington State awarded $ 1 million to the UW School of Medicine for the formation of the Firearm Injury & Policy Research Program. The program seeks to answer urgent questions regarding firearms risks, injuries, policies and programs in Washington state.

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