Researchers from the United Kingdom reported that men and women with mental health disorders were more likely to have experienced domestic violence compared with the general population. The prevalence of domestic violence was observed across a range of mental health diagnoses.
“In view of the increased prevalence of domestic violence experienced by people with mental disorders, mental health and primary care professionals need to be trained on how to identify patients who are experiencing domestic violence, and ensure referral and care pathways are in place to meet their emotional and practical needs around this abuse,” study researcher Louise M. Howard, PhD, MRCPsych, of King’s College London, told Psychiatric Annals.
Louise M. Howard
Howard and colleagues performed a meta-analysis of 41 studies worldwide that reported on domestic violence in men and women aged 16 years or older. Diagnoses of mental disorders were based on validated measures.
Results indicated that women with depressive disorders were about two-and-a-half times more likely to have experienced domestic violence vs. women without mental health disorders (OR=2.77; 95% CI, 1.96-3.92). Women with anxiety disorders (OR=4.08; 95% CI, 2.39-6.97) or PTSD (OR=7.34; 95% CI, 4.50-11.98) were at an even greater risk for domestic violence. Women with obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, personality disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and common mental disorders were also more likely to have experienced domestic violence, compared with women without mental health disorders.
According to the researchers, men with all types of mental disorders were also at an increased risk for domestic violence, but the prevalence estimates among men were lower compared with those among women, suggesting that men were less likely to have been victims of domestic violence.
“The evidence suggests that there are two things happening: domestic violence can often lead to victims developing mental health problems, and people with mental health problems are more likely to experience domestic violence,” Howard said in a press release.
Disclosure: Study researcher Gene Feder, MD, and Dr. Howard are members of the WHO Guideline Development Group on Policy and Practice Guidelines for responding to Violence Against Women and the NICE/SCIE Guideline Development Group on Preventing and Reducing Domestic Violence.