Exposure to Interpersonal Violence and Its Associations With Psychiatric Morbidity in a U.S. National Sample: A Gender Comparison

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Objectives: We examine gender differences in population rates of various types of interpersonal violence in a U.S. national sample and investigate gender as a moderator of the associations between interpersonal violence and lifetime mental disorders and suicide attempts. Methods: Data were drawn from the National Comorbidity Survey-Replication study; 5,692 women and men completed interviews assessing lifetime exposure to nine types of interpersonal violence, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM–IV) mental health diagnoses, and suicide attempts. Results: Approximately 46% of women and 42% of men reported one or more types of interpersonal violence. Women were more likely to experience kidnapping, physical assault by an intimate partner, rape, sexual assault, and stalking, whereas men were more likely to experience mugging or physical assault by someone other than parents or an intimate partner. Interpersonal violence was associated with risk for many mental disorders and attempted suicide. Although women were at higher risk for several forms of interpersonal violence, the impact of interpersonal violence on mental health outcomes did not vary by gender. Conclusions: It is clearly important to identify and provide mental health treatment to women after interpersonal violence exposure. Findings also underscore the need for prevention and intervention efforts for women and men, including routine screening for interpersonal violence by health care providers and appropriate treatment to address mental health conditions.

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