Nursing Home Visits, Abortion and Intimate Partner Violence: More from ASHEcon

Research Corner
June 13, 2023

Soleil Shah, MSc, Research Reporter

Soleil Shah writes Tradeoffs’ Research Corner, a weekly newsletter bringing you original analysis, interviews with leading researchers and more to help you stay on top of the latest health policy research.

This week a big chunk of the Tradeoffs team is in St. Louis for the 12th annual American Society of Health Economics (ASHEcon) Conference, where hundreds of new health economics studies are being presented. We shared three on the podcast last week, and today I’m highlighting two others I found fascinating.

Nursing Home Visits, Abortion and Intimate Partner Violence: More from ASHEcon

Nursing home visits from loved ones during the pandemic actually saved lives

Early on during COVID, many U.S. nursing homes banned visits from families and friends to limit spread of the virus. But those well-intentioned restrictions also worsened depression, anxiety, dementia and quality of everyday life among residents. Was the tradeoff worth it?

One working paper by Mingyu Qi, Nadia Ghazali and Tamara Konetzka compared nursing homes that banned all guests with other, similar nursing homes that set up what came to be called ‘essential caregiver’ policies, allowing friends and family to spend time with residents. The authors found that these essential caregiver policies actually reduced total deaths by 14 percent. That included fewer deaths from non-COVID causes and perhaps more surprisingly, an even steeper drop in COVID-related deaths. In other words, the policy seemed to pay off. The benefits of interacting with family and friends outweighed the risks to residents.

Legalizing abortion in Mexico City decreased intimate partner violence

June 24 marks the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which has restricted abortion access in states across the U.S. Critics have expressed concern that this ruling could also increase intimate partner violence, especially for people of color. Becoming pregnant is associated with an increase in violence at home, and homicide is a leading cause of death among pregnant and postpartum women in the U.S.

New research from Mexico by Aixa Garcia-Ramos and Mayra Pineda-Torres affirms how important abortion can be in protecting women’s safety. The researchers found that after abortion was legalized in Mexico City in 2007, intimate partner violence dropped by eight to 12 percent for women there compared to women living in other Mexican cities and towns that didn’t legalize abortion. The authors report the effect was strongest for women who already have children and was at least partially due to a decline in unwanted births, though they also note more research is needed to fully understand the results.