Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 2006


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





School of Nursing

Committee Chair

L. Kathleen Sekula

Committee Member

Glenda Kaufman Kantor

Committee Member

Jacquelyn Campbell

Committee Member

Joan Such Lockhart

Committee Member

John C. Kern


Child Maltreatment, Domestic Violence, Stress-Illness Linkage


Research suggests that violence against women is a significant public health problem that has reached catastrophic levels. Women who are abused use health care services at higher rates than those who are not abused and continue to experience health problems long after the original trauma. Few studies have examined the association between women's history of victimization and numbers and types of surgical interventions over the life course.

A triangulated study using quantitative and qualitative approaches was designed. The cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted through use of a survey of 156 women who were scheduled for elective surgery. The qualitative methodology, which included post operative interviews with eight women, described the perceived experiences of perioperative female clients who acknowledged intimate partner violence (IPV) in their current relationship with a partner.

The relationship between women's history of victimization and the numbers and types of surgical intervention they experienced was examined statistically. State (pre-operative) and trait anxiety were also studied. Findings revealed that women who had a history of victimization as a child and as an adult experienced a significantly higher number of surgeries than women who had survived child maltreatment only. The average number of major surgeries experienced by women who were survivors of both child maltreatment and IPV as an adult approached a significantly higher number of major surgeries than the average number of major surgeries experienced by women with a history of child maltreatments only. State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) trait scores of women who were victims of both IPV and child maltreatment were significantly higher than the average STAI trait scores for women who had never been abused.

Screening for victimization history is suggested in perioperative settings to facilitate appropriate intervention. Nurse education and training that support staff competence in the identification and assessment of victims in the clinical setting is recommended in order to provide optimum care that will enhance patient safety. The ultimate goal is to improve outcomes for all women who have histories of victimization.