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Domestic abuse survivors twice at risk of long-term illnesses

Study by the Universities of Birmingham and Warwick published

Female survivors of domestic abuse are at double the risk of developing long-term illnesses that cause widespread bodily pain and extreme tiredness, according to a study by the Universities of Birmingham and Warwick.

Published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, the research shows that women who have experienced domestic abuse are almost twice as likely to develop fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) than those who have not. Fibromyalgia causes pain all over the body, while CFS is an illness with a wide range of symptoms, most common of which is extreme tiredness. They are both long-term conditions.

The study, the first of its kind, examined the GP records dating between 1995 and 2017 of 18,547 women who had suffered domestic abuse, compared to 74,188 who had not. They found the risk of developing fibromyalgia and CFS in women who have experienced domestic abuse was twice the rate of those who had no recorded experience by their GP, after taking into account factors which may influence the association.

A previous study led by the University of Birmingham published in June 2019 showed that UK domestic abuse victims are three times more likely to develop severe mental illnesses. However, until now there have been few studies designed to assess the relationship between women who have been abused and the likelihood of them developing long-term illnesses such as fibromyalgia and CFS.

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