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Study ties bullying, domestic violence

June 13, 2011

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Boys who are bullies are nearly four times as likely as non-bullies to grow up to physically or sexually abuse their female partners, a study led by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found. With growing public concern over bullying, the authors said they wanted to examine the tie to domestic abuse because both abusers and bullies are driven by the desire to exert control over another person.

The researchers surveyed 1,491 men between ages 18 and 35 who were recruited from three Boston community health centers. Of the 241 men who reported being violent toward a partner in the previous year, 64.3 percent said they had bullied other children during their school days. After using statistical methods to account for other factors that affect both bullies and abusers, such as exposure to parental violence, the researchers found that the 92 participants who said they had frequently engaged in bullying were 3.8 times more likely to have later abused their adult partners.

Lead author Kathyrn Falb said more research is needed to find effective intervention methods and look at how bullying of girls, in particular, affects boys’ pattern of violence as adults.

BOTTOM LINE: Boys who are bullies are more likely as adults to be violent toward partners.

CAUTIONS: The study was based on self-reporting. It relied on participants’ interpretation of bullying and what they could recall from their childhood.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, online June 6

Telemedicine helps hepatitis C patients Connecting rural primary care doctors with hepatitis C specialists for weekly conferences to discuss specific cases resulted in care comparable to that provided by an academic medical center, a study by the University of New Mexico found.

Over five years, the researchers followed 261 patients between the ages of 18 and 65 from 16 rural clinics and five prisons. Doctors for those patients were connected to hepatologists and infectious disease specialists through video or teleconferences to regularly review their cases. In a separate group of 146 patients seen at the academic medical center’s hepatitis clinic during the same time period, treatment brought the virus under control for 57.5 percent of patients. In the group of rural and prison patients, the rate was 58.2 percent.

Before the study began in 2004, most patients in rural New Mexico had to wait up to six months for an appointment at the university and travel up to 250 miles to be seen, the authors said. As of 2003, no prison inmate had been treated at all. The authors said their program provides a model for states.

BOTTOM LINE: Connecting rural primary care doctors to specialists through regular conferences improved care for underserved hepatitis C patients.

CAUTIONS: The study included no control group of patients treated in rural settings. The lead author received grants from Vertex Pharamaceuticals of Cambridge, which is preparing to market a new hepatitis C drug.

WHERE TO FIND IT: New England Journal of Medicine, June 9

CHELSEA CONABOY

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