Underestimation of Potentially Traumatic Events Resulting From Underreporting of Physical and Sexual Violence Among People Entering Care for HIV in Cameroon

Lindsey M. Filiatreau, Peter Vanes Ebasone, Anastase Dzudie, Rogers Ajeh, Brian W. Pence, Milton Wainberg, Marcel Yotebieng, Denis Nash, Kathryn Anastos, Angela M. Parcesepe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Measures ascertaining exposure to potentially traumatic events (PTEs) frequently ask respondents about experienced physical and sexual violence. However, little is known about the performance of physical and sexual violence questions on PTE assessments and its effect on PTE classification overall. We estimated underreporting of physical and sexual violence on a PTE assessment among individuals entering HIV care in Cameroon. Method: We compared reports of physical and sexual violence captured via a behaviorally specific measure of intimate partner violence (IPV; Demographic and Health Survey [DHS] domestic violence module = referent) to those captured via two single-item questions that assessed exposure to physical and sexual PTEs during one’s adult life to determine the degree of underreporting on the single-item PTE assessment questions. We explored correlates of underreporting on the PTE assessment using Pearson’s chisquared tests. Results: Overall, 99 (23%) and 113 (27%) of 426 total participants reported instances of sexual and physical violence in their most recent partnership on the behaviorally specific DHS IPV module, respectively. Of those reporting sexual and physical IPV on the DHS module, just 6% (n = 6) and 52% (n = 59) reported sexual and physical violence as an adult on the single-item PTE assessment questions, respectively. Underreporting of physical violence on the PTE assessment was associated with lower educational attainment (p <.05) and reporting being punched (p <.01) or having one’s hair pulled or arm twisted (p <.05) by one’s most recent partner. Conclusions: PTE assessment tools should assess exposure to behaviorally specific acts of violence to ensure appropriate referral to services among survivors of IPV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Intimate partner violence
  • Survey methods
  • Trauma
  • Underreporting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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