Interpersonal violence and painful bladder symptoms in community-dwelling midlife to older women

Elsevier, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Volume 226, February 2022
Raphael E., Van Den Eeden S.K., Gibson C.J., Tonner C., Thom D.H., Subak L. et al.
Background: Women are more likely to present with genitourinary complaints immediately after exposure to interpersonal violence, but little is known about the long-term effects of violence on women's urologic health, including their susceptibility to bladder pain and infections. Objective: To determine whether lifetime interpersonal violence exposure and current posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms are associated with the prevalence or severity of painful bladder symptoms and a greater lifetime history of antibiotic-treated urinary tract infections in community-dwelling midlife and older women. Study Design: We examined the cross-sectional data from a multiethnic cohort of community-dwelling women aged 40 to 80 years enrolled in a northern California integrated healthcare system. Women completed structured self-report questionnaires about their past exposure to physical and verbal/emotional intimate partner violence and sexual assault. The symptoms of PTSD were assessed using the PTSD checklist for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition, Civilian version. Additional structured self-report measures assessed the current bladder pain, other lower urinary tract symptoms, and the history of antibiotic-treated urinary tract infections. Multivariable logistic regression models examined self-reported interpersonal violence exposure history and current PTSD symptoms in relation to current bladder pain and antibiotic-treated urinary tract infection history. Results: Among 1974 women (39% non-Latina White, 21% Black, 20% Latina, and 19% Asian), 22% reported lifetime interpersonal violence exposure, 22% reported bladder pain, and 60% reported a history of ever having an antibiotic-treated urinary tract infection. Lifetime experiences of sexual assault (odds ratio, 1.39; [95% confidence interval, 1.02–1.88]) and current PTSD symptoms (odds ratio, 1.96; [95% confidence interval, 1.45–2.65]) were associated with current bladder pain. A lifetime experience of physical intimate partner violence was associated with having a urinary tract infection at any time in life previously (odds ratio, 1.38; [95% confidence interval, 1.00–1.86]), as was emotional intimate partner violence (odds ratio, 1.88; [95% confidence interval, 1.43–2.48]), sexual assault (odds ratio, 1.44; [95% confidence interval, 1.09–1.91]), and current PTSD symptoms (odds ratio, 1.54; [95% confidence interval, 1.16–2.03]). Conclusion: In this ethnically diverse, community-based cohort, lifetime interpersonal violence exposures and current PTSD symptoms were independently associated with current bladder pain and the lifetime history of antibiotic-treated urinary tract infections in midlife to older women. The findings suggest that interpersonal violence and PTSD symptoms may be underrecognized markers of risk for urologic pain and infections in women, highlighting a need for trauma-informed care of these issues.