NIH to Spend $343K to Determine If Violence against Women Is Tied to Cancer Care

July 18, 2014 - 3:17 PM


(AP Photo)

( – The National Institutes of Health has awarded $343,648 to the University of Kentucky to determine whether violence against women leads to disparities in cancer care for women.

The grant abstract quoted the United Nations’ definition of violence against women (VAW) as “any act of gender based violence that results in physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women.” Almost 40 percent of women in Kentucky had experienced some form of VAW in their lifetime, the abstract noted.

“The frequency of VAW poses a serious public health challenge not only due to the prevalence but also the long term impact on women’s health, documented in an impressive body of literature. However, very little research has explored the effect of lifetime VAW on cancer prevention and control,” the grant abstract said.

“Kentucky has a high cancer burden with the highest cancer mortality rate of all US states,” the abstract added.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Kentucky was listed among states with the highest cancer mortality rates and the highest number of cancer incidences in 2010.

“VAW frequently co-occurs with social factors leading to health disparities including unemployment, less education and minority race,” the grant abstract said.

Researchers at the University of Kentucky seek to determine “the extent to which VAW may explain noted disparities in cancer care based on women’s race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, access to health insurance, or residence in high poverty and rural areas of Kentucky.”

Specific aims of the research include: determining whether violence against women is associated with disparities in breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and cervical cancer care outcomes “to include not receiving cancer screening at recommended intervals, being diagnosed with cancer at a later stage, not receiving recommended cancer treatment including supportive/palliative care, having health insurance, rural residence, and specific regions of high poverty (e.g., living in the Appalachian region of eastern Kentucky or the Delta regions of western Kentucky).”

Researchers plan to interview 5,250 women diagnosed with cancer that they identified using the Kentucky Cancer Registry “to determine their lifetime exposure to VAW and comorbid conditions.” The data will be “linked with state level Medicare claims data for women completing phone surveys who are 65 or older.”

The project began on Sept. 25, 2009, but the budget start date was on April 30, 2015. The project end date and budget end date are the same – April 30, 2015.

Calls to professor and Endowed Chair Ann Coker, project leader for the grant, were not returned by press time.