Public Health Resources


Date of this Version

Summer 2009


The Journal of Rural Health, Vol. 25, No. 3, pp. 240-246.


Context: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a public health problem that affects people across the entire social spectrum. However, no previous population-based public health studies have examined the prevalence of IPV in rural areas of the United States. Research on IPV in rural areas is especially important given that there are relatively fewer resources available in rural areas for the prevention of IPV.

Methods: In 2005, over 25,000 rural residents in 16 states completed the first-ever IPV module within the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The BRFSS is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-sponsored annual random-digit-dialed telephone survey. The BRFSS provides surveillance of health behaviors and health risks among the non-institutionalized adult population of the United States and several US territories.

Findings: Overall, 26.7% of rural women and 15.5% of rural men reported some form of lifetime IPV victimization, similar to the prevalence found among men and women in non-rural areas. Within several states, those living in rural areas evidenced significantly higher lifetime IPV prevalence than those in non-rural areas.

Conclusion: IPV is a significant public health problem in rural areas, affecting a similar portion of the population as in non-rural areas. More research is needed to examine how the experience of IPV is different for rural and non-rural residents.

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