Understanding the Barriers of Violence Victims’ Health Care Use

Keith L. Hullenaar, Michelle Frisco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Violence is a leading cause of death among U.S. adults under age 45. There are also 3.3 million living violence victims, most of whom forgo formal health care when injured. We developed and tested a framework to understand why. We argue that violence victims must consider their need for care and three situational factors of victimization that may serve as barriers for care seeking: the victim’s relationship to the offender, their victimization history, and the offense committed (sexual vs. nonsexual). In analyses of 9,912 violent victimizations from 8,635 participants in the National Crime Victimization Survey from 1993 to 2017, we found that injury severity and situational factors of victimization independently and interactively predict formal health care use. Even when serious injury occurs, victimizations involving known offenders, repeat victimizations, and sexual violence are less likely than their counterparts to result in formal health care use. We discuss the implications of these findings for victims and health care providers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)470-485
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of health and social behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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