By Mary Elizabeth Dallas
TUESDAY, Sept. 16, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- One in five American men admits to using violence against his spouse or partner, a new survey shows.
A nationally representative study from the University of Michigan revealed that such violence is more prevalent than diabetes. This violence includes pushing and shoving, grabbing, throwing objects, slapping and hitting, kicking, biting, choking, burning or threatening their partner with a weapon, the researchers said.
Although abuse by high-profile professional athletes has recently made headlines, the researchers said their findings suggest intimate partner violence affects anyone.
"When people think of men who abuse their partners, they often think of violent people who they have never come across, or people they have only heard about in the news," study author Dr. Vijay Singh, a clinical lecturer in the departments of emergency medicine and family medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, said in a university news release.
"However, our study showed one out of every five men in the U.S. reported physical violence toward an intimate partner," Singh said. "It's likely that we've all met these men in our daily environment. This is an issue that cuts across all communities, regardless of race, income or any other demographics."
The research included 530 men. Their average age was 42. Of these men, about 78 percent were non-Hispanic white, 56 percent had continued their education beyond high school, and 84 percent had a job.
"Most of our efforts to prevent intimate partner violence have focused on screening and improving outcomes for women who are victims, because their health and well-being is our priority," explained Singh, who is also a member of the University of Michigan Injury Center and the university's Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. "Very little work, however, has been done on how to identify male perpetrators."
More than 50 percent of the men in the study who reported using violence against their spouse or partner had at least one routine health visit within the past year. The researchers added that almost one-third of these men also visited the emergency room at least once in the past year.
"Our research shows that male perpetrators of intimate partner violence seek routine medical services," Singh said. "This suggests that we may be missing an important opportunity in the primary care setting to identify their aggressive behavior and potentially intervene."
There are a number of telltale signs among men that are associated with a higher risk of intimate partner violence, according to the study, published recently in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. Some of these signs include:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- History of substance abuse
- History of experiencing or witnessing violence as a child
Domestic violence is a growing public health concern. Every year in the United States, roughly 320,000 doctor visits and 1,200 deaths among women are the result of intimate partner violence. This form of abuse costs $8.3 billion in related medical and mental health services alone.