|F. David Schneider, M.D.
ST. LOUIS - In light of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, F. David Schneider, M.D., professor and chair in the department of family and community medicine at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, led a congressional briefing on violence and its impact on health on April 18. The briefing, which was hosted by the National Health Collaborative on Violence and Abuse (NHCVA), aimed to raise awareness of the health impacts of violence and abuse across the lifespan and policy opportunities to prevent and address abuse.
"Violence is not just a social or legal issue," Schneider said. "For health care providers, it's an issue we see all the time. As a country, we need to ensure that victims of violence and abuse receive the appropriate care to address their unique health needs."
Schneider moderated a panel of national experts who spoke from personal and professional experience to discuss the need for new preventative measures to be integrated into the national public health agenda on domestic violence and child maltreatment. The panel also discussed the Violence Against Women Act, which could address this issue.
A leading expert on the adverse health effects of violence and victimization, Schneider has been named the incoming chairman of the NHCVA.
"Over the last 10 years, a vast body of knowledge has emerged linking violence and abuse not just to mental illness, but physical illness, as well," Schneider said. "Studies have found that victims are significantly more likely to develop a number of diseases across the lifespan including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and obesity."
The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study conducted in the 1990s was one of the first studies to establish a connection between childhood abuse and negative health outcomes. The study found that individuals who experienced four ACE events were 50 times more likely to attempt suicide and significantly more likely to engage in early risk-taking behaviors such as smoking, drinking and drug use.
More recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the first National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey
in December. The study found that more than 80 percent of women who were victims of sexual and domestic violence experienced significant short-term and long-term health impacts. In particular, victims were more likely to experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and long-term chronic diseases such as asthma and diabetes.
Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: cancer, infectious disease, liver disease, aging and brain disease and heart/lung disease.