Document Type


Degree Name



Dept. of Public Health and Preventive Medicine


Oregon Health & Science University


Background: Interpersonal violence (IPV) is increased for men and women with disabilities and it has been associated with negative health outcomes in the general population. People with disabilities may experience barriers to seeking help after abuse due to social stigma and inadequacy of resources. Objective: To examine barriers to seeking help after abuse in people with developmental disabilities and identify associations between barriers and health outcomes. Methods: We surveyed 350 men and women with developmental disabilities about their health, disability and history of abuse. This analysis was limited to the 223 (64%) participants who reported abuse experiences as an adult. We compared the characteristics of people who reported barriers to those who did not. We used linear regression to examine the association between barriers to seeking help and adapted CESD-10 (depression) scores, PHQ-15 (physical health) scores, and PCL-C (PTSD) scores. Results: Participants who reported barriers to seeking help (56%) were more likely to be employed, utilize personal assistance, and have a history of child abuse (all p < 0.05). Participants with at least one barrier had a mean depression score 1.67 points higher than those without any barriers, after adjusting for demographic characteristics and child abuse history (p = 0.045). This association was attenuated after adjustment for functional limitation and abuse severity. Conclusions: The association between barriers to seeking help and depression following abuse in people with developmental disabilities is complex and will require more focus in future research efforts. We must address the social conditions that could be disincentives to help-seeking following abuse in this population.




School of Medicine



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