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1.  Prevalence of Consensual Male–Male Sex and Sexual Violence, and Associations with HIV in South Africa: A Population-Based Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(6):e1001472.
Using a method that offered complete privacy to participants, Rachel Jewkes and colleagues conducted a survey among South African men about their lifetime same-sex experiences.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
In sub-Saharan Africa the population prevalence of men who have sex with men (MSM) is unknown, as is the population prevalence of male-on-male sexual violence, and whether male-on-male sexual violence may relate to HIV risk. This paper describes lifetime prevalence of consensual male–male sexual behavior and male-on-male sexual violence (victimization and perpetration) in two South African provinces, socio-demographic factors associated with these experiences, and associations with HIV serostatus.
Methods and Findings
In a cross-sectional study conducted in 2008, men aged 18–49 y from randomly selected households in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces provided anonymous survey data and dried blood spots for HIV serostatus assessment. Interviews were completed in 1,737 of 2,298 (75.6%) of enumerated and eligible households. From these households, 1,705 men (97.1%) provided data on lifetime history of same-sex experiences, and 1,220 (70.2%) also provided dried blood spots for HIV testing. 5.4% (n = 92) of participants reported a lifetime history of any consensual sexual activity with another man; 9.6% (n = 164) reported any sexual victimization by a man, and 3.0% (n = 51) reported perpetrating sexual violence against another man. 85.0% (n = 79) of men with a history of consensual sex with men reported having a current female partner, and 27.7% (n = 26) reported having a current male partner. Of the latter, 80.6% (n = 21/26) also reported having a female partner. Men reporting a history of consensual male–male sexual behavior are more likely to have been a victim of male-on-male sexual violence (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 7.24; 95% CI 4.26–12.3), and to have perpetrated sexual violence against another man (aOR = 3.10; 95% CI 1.22–7.90). Men reporting consensual oral/anal sex with a man were more likely to be HIV+ than men with no such history (aOR = 3.11; 95% CI 1.24–7.80). Men who had raped a man were more likely to be HIV+ than non-perpetrators (aOR = 3.58; 95% CI 1.17–10.9).
Conclusions
In this sample, one in 20 men (5.4%) reported lifetime consensual sexual contact with a man, while about one in ten (9.6%) reported experience of male-on-male sexual violence victimization. Men who reported having had sex with men were more likely to be HIV+, as were men who reported perpetrating sexual violence towards other men. Whilst there was no direct measure of male–female concurrency (having overlapping sexual relationships with men and women), the data suggest that this may have been common. These findings suggest that HIV prevention messages regarding male–male sex in South Africa should be mainstreamed with prevention messages for the general population, and sexual health interventions and HIV prevention interventions for South African men should explicitly address male-on-male sexual violence.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
AIDS first emerged in the early 1980s among gay men living in the US, but it soon became clear that AIDS also infects heterosexual men and women. Now, three decades on, globally, 34 million people (two-thirds of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa and half of whom are women) are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and 2.5 million people become infected every year. HIV is most often spread by having unprotected sex with an infected partner, and most sexual transmission of HIV now occurs during heterosexual sex. However, 5%–10% of all new HIV infections still occur in men who have sex with men (MSM; homosexual, bisexual, and transgender men, and heterosexual men who sometimes have consensual sex with men). Moreover, in the concentrated HIV epidemics of high-income countries (epidemics in which the prevalence of HIV infection is more than 5% in at-risk populations such as sex workers but less than 1% in the general population), male-to-male sexual contact remains the most important transmission route, and MSM often have a higher prevalence of HIV infection than heterosexual men.
Why Was This Study Done?
By contrast to high-income countries, HIV epidemics in sub-Saharan Africa are generalized—the prevalence of HIV infection is 1% or more in the general population. Because male-to-male sexual behavior is criminalized in many African countries and because homosexuality is widely stigmatized, little is known about the prevalence of consensual male–male sexual behavior in sub-Saharan Africa. This information and a better understanding of male–female sexual concurrency (having overlapping sexual relationships with men and women) and of how male-to-male transmission contributes to generalized HIV epidemics is needed to inform the design of HIV prevention strategies for use in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, very little is known about male-on-male sexual violence. Such violence is potentially important to study because we know that male-on-female violence is associated with increased HIV risk for both victims and perpetrators. In this cross-sectional study (an investigation that measures population characteristics at a single time point), the researchers use data from a population-based household survey to investigate the lifetime prevalence of consensual male–male sexual behavior and male-on-male sexual violence (victimization and perpetration) among men in South Africa and the association of these experiences with HIV infection.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
About 1,700 adult men from randomly selected households in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces of South Africa self-completed a survey that included questions about their lifetime history of same-sex experiences using audio-enhanced personal digital assistants, a data collection method that provided a totally private and anonymous environment for the disclosure of illegal and stigmatized behavior; 1,220 of them also provided dried blood spots for HIV testing. Ninety-two men (5.4% of the participants) reported consensual sexual activity (for example, anal or oral sex) with another man at some time during their life; 9.6% of the men reported that they had been forced to have sex with another man (sexual victimization), and 3% reported that they had perpetrated sexual violence against another man. Most of the men who reported consensual sex with men, including those with current male partners, reported that they had a current female partner. Men with a history of consensual male–male sexual behavior were more likely to have been a victim or perpetrator of male-on-male sexual violence than men without a history of such experiences. Finally, men who reported consensual oral or anal sex with a man were more likely to be HIV+ than men without such a history, and perpetrators of male-on-male sexual violence were more likely to be HIV+ than non-perpetrators.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide new information about male–male sexual behaviors, male-on-male sexual violence, male–female concurrency, and HIV prevalence among men in two South African provinces. The precision of these findings is likely to be affected by the small numbers of men reporting a history of consensual male–male sexual behavior and of male-on-male sexual violence. Importantly, because the study was cross-sectional, these findings cannot indicate whether the association between consensual male–male sexual behaviors and increased risk of male-on-male sexual violence is causal. Moreover, these findings may not be generalizable to other regions of South Africa or to other African countries. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that information about the risks of male–male sexual behaviors should be included in HIV prevention strategies targeted at the general population in South Africa and that HIV prevention interventions for South African men should explicitly address male-on-male sexual violence. Similar HIV prevention strategies may also be suitable for other African countries, but are likely to succeed only in countries that have, like South Africa, decriminalized consensual homosexual behavior.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001472.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Jerome Singh
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS, including summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on HIV and men who have sex with men, on HIV prevention, and on AIDS in Africa (in English and Spanish)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has information about HIV/AIDS among men who have sex with men (in English and Spanish)
Patient stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through Avert; the charity website Healthtalkonline also provides personal stories about living with HIV
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001472
PMCID: PMC3708702  PMID: 23853554
2.  Physical Dating Violence Victimization in College Women in Chile 
Journal of Women's Health  2010;19(5):893-902.
Abstract
Objectives
There are no published studies on physical dating violence in college students in Chile, and campuses across the country currently lack systematized programs to prevent or respond to this public health problem. This is the first study to examine prevalence and predictors of physical dating violence victimization with a sample of female college students in Chile.
Methods
A closed-ended questionnaire was administered to students enrolled in general education courses at a major public university. The prevalence of women's physical dating violence victimization was calculated, and generalized ordered logit models were used to estimate risk factors for such victimization (n = 441). Ancillary analyses examined associations of dating violence victimization with experiences of unwanted sexual contact and forced condom nonuse.
Results
Approximately 21% of subjects reported one or more incidents of physical dating violence not involving physical injury since age 14, and another 5% reported at least one incident resulting in physical injury during this time period. Risk factors identified in five sequential models were sexual abuse and witnessing of domestic violence in childhood, low parental education, residence away from the parental home, urban residence, and having had sexual intercourse. Maternal employment and religious participation had protective effects. Dating violence victimization was found to be significantly associated with experiences of unwanted sexual contact and forced condom nonuse.
Conclusions
The study findings show a high prevalence of physical dating violence, strong associations between several sociodemographic factors and dating violence, and links between dating violence and sexual/reproductive risk. Our results indicate a need to expand attention to this public health problem in Chile as well as other developing countries, where research and prevention/response initiatives have generally been similarly limited. The findings also have important implications for the content of dating violence, HIV/sexually transmitted infection (STI), and pregnancy prevention programs for adolescents and young adults.
doi:10.1089/jwh.2009.1583
PMCID: PMC2875989  PMID: 20350204
3.  Associations between Intimate Partner Violence and Termination of Pregnancy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(1):e1001581.
Lucy Chappell and colleagues conduct a systematic review and meta analysis to investigate a possible association between intimate partner violence and termination of pregnancy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Intimate partner violence (IPV) and termination of pregnancy (TOP) are global health concerns, but their interaction is undetermined. The aim of this study was to determine whether there is an association between IPV and TOP.
Methods and Findings
A systematic review based on a search of Medline, Embase, PsycINFO, and Ovid Maternity and Infant Care from each database's inception to 21 September 2013 for peer-reviewed articles of any design and language found 74 studies regarding women who had undergone TOP and had experienced at least one domain (physical, sexual, or emotional) of IPV. Prevalence of IPV and association between IPV and TOP were meta-analysed. Sample sizes ranged from eight to 33,385 participants. Worldwide, rates of IPV in the preceding year in women undergoing TOP ranged from 2.5% to 30%. Lifetime prevalence by meta-analysis was shown to be 24.9% (95% CI 19.9% to 30.6%); heterogeneity was high (I2>90%), and variation was not explained by study design, quality, or size, or country gross national income per capita. IPV, including history of rape, sexual assault, contraceptive sabotage, and coerced decision-making, was associated with TOP, and with repeat TOPs. By meta-analysis, partner not knowing about the TOP was shown to be significantly associated with IPV (pooled odds ratio 2.97, 95% CI 2.39 to 3.69). Women in violent relationships were more likely to have concealed the TOP from their partner than those who were not. Demographic factors including age, ethnicity, education, marital status, income, employment, and drug and alcohol use showed no strong or consistent mediating effect. Few long-term outcomes were studied. Women welcomed the opportunity to disclose IPV and be offered help. Limitations include study heterogeneity, potential underreporting of both IPV and TOP in primary data sources, and inherent difficulties in validation.
Conclusions
IPV is associated with TOP. Novel public health approaches are required to prevent IPV. TOP services provide an opportune health-based setting to design and test interventions.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Intimate partner violence (sometimes referred to as domestic violence) is one of the commonest forms of violence against women and is a global health problem. The World Health Organization defines intimate partner violence as any act of physical, psychological, or sexual aggression or any controlling behavior (for example, restriction of access to assistance) perpetrated by the woman's current or past intimate partner. Although men also experience it, intimate partner violence is overwhelmingly experienced by women, particularly when repeated or severe. Studies indicate that the prevalence (the percentage of a population affected by a condition) of intimate partner violence varies widely within and between countries: the prevalence of intimate partner violence among women ranges from 15% in Japan to 71% in Ethiopia, and the lifetime prevalence of rape (forced sex) within intimate relationships ranges from 5.9% to 42% across the world, for example. Overall, a third of women experience intimate partner violence at some time during their lifetimes. The health consequences of such violence include physical injury, depression, suicidal behavior, and gastrointestinal disorders.
Why Was This Study Done?
Intimate partner violence can also lead to gynecological disorders (conditions affecting the female reproductive organs), unwanted pregnancy, premature labour and birth, and sexually transmitted infections. Because violence may begin or intensify during pregnancy, some countries recommend routine questioning about intimate partner violence during antenatal care. However, women seeking termination of pregnancy (induced abortion) are not routinely asked about intimate partner violence. Every year, many women worldwide terminate a pregnancy. Nearly half of these terminations are unsafe, and complications arising from unsafe abortions are responsible for more than 10% of maternal deaths (deaths from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications). It is important to know whether intimate partner violence and termination of pregnancy are associated in order to develop effective strategies to deal with both these global health concerns. Here, the researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate the associations between intimate partner violence and termination or pregnancy. A systematic review identifies all the research on a given topic using predefined criteria; meta-analysis combines the results of several studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 74 studies that provided information about experiences of intimate partner violence among women who had had a termination of pregnancy. Data in these studies indicated that, worldwide, intimate partner violence rates among women undergoing termination ranged from 2.5% to 30% in the preceding year and from 14% to 40% over their lifetime. In the meta-analysis, the lifetime prevalence of intimate partner violence was 24.9% among termination-seeking populations. The identified studies provided evidence that intimate partner violence was associated with termination and with repeat termination. In one study, for example, women presenting for a third termination were more than two and a half times more likely to have a history of physical or sexual violence than women presenting for their first termination. Moreover, according to the meta-analysis, women in violent relationships were three times as likely to conceal a termination from their partner as women in non-violent relationships. Finally, the studies indicated that women undergoing terminations of pregnancy welcomed the opportunity to disclose their experiences of intimate partner violence and to be offered help.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that intimate partner violence is associated with termination of pregnancy and that a woman's partner not knowing about the termination is a risk factor for intimate partner violence among women seeking termination. Overall, the researchers' findings support the concept that violence can lead to pregnancy and to subsequent termination of pregnancy, and that there may be a repetitive cycle of abuse and pregnancy. The accuracy of these findings is limited by heterogeneity (variability) among the included studies, by the likelihood of underreporting of both intimate partner violence and termination in the included studies, and by lack of validation of reports of violence through, for example, police reports. Nevertheless, health-care professionals should consider the possibility that women seeking termination of pregnancy may be experiencing intimate partner violence. In trying to prevent repeat terminations, health-care professionals should be aware that while focusing on preventing conception may reduce the chances of a woman becoming pregnant, she may still be vulnerable to abuse. Finally, given the clear associations between intimate partner violence and termination of pregnancy, the researchers suggest that termination services represent an appropriate setting in which to test interventions designed to reduce intimate partner violence.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001581.
The World Health organization provides detailed information about intimate partner violence and about termination of pregnancy (some information available in several languages)
MedlinePlus provides links to other resources about intimate partner violence and about termination of pregnancy (in English and Spanish)
The World Bank has a webpage that discusses the role of the health sector in preventing gender-based violence and a webpage with links to other resources about gender-based violence
The Gender and Health Research Unit of the South African Medical Research Council provides links to further resources about intimate partner violence (research briefs/policy briefs/fact sheets/research reports)
DIVERHSE (Domestic & Interpersonal Violence: Effecting Responses in the Health Sector in Europe) is a European forum for health professionals, nongovernmental organizations, policy-makers, and academics to share their expertise and good practice in developing and evaluating interventions to address violence against women and children in a variety of health-care settings
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine's Gender Violence and Health Centre also has a number of research resources
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides personal stories of intimate partner violence during pregnancy
The March of Dimes provides information on identifying intimate partner violence during pregnancy and making a safety plan
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001581
PMCID: PMC3883805  PMID: 24409101
4.  Violence, Abuse, and Asthma in Puerto Rican Children 
Rationale: Puerto Ricans have the highest prevalence of and morbidity from asthma of all ethnic groups in the United States. One potential contributor to the high burden of asthma in Puerto Rican children is exposure to stress and violence.
Objectives: To examine whether exposure to stress and violence is associated with an increased risk of asthma among Puerto Rican children.
Methods: This study was a population-based probability sample of children in the San Juan and Caguas metropolitan areas in Puerto Rico. Information was collected in a household survey of 1,213 children and their primary caretakers.
Measurements and Main Results: The prevalence of lifetime physician-diagnosed asthma was 39.6%. In the year before the survey, 14% of children had witnessed an act of violence, 7% had been victims of violence, and 6% had been victims of physical or sexual abuse. Although stressful life events and exposure to neighborhood violence were not associated with asthma, a history of physical or sexual abuse was associated with approximately twice the odds of current asthma (odd ratio [OR], 2.52; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.27–5.00), health care use for asthma (OR, 1.95; 95% CI, 0.96–3.96), and medication use for asthma (OR, 2.35; 95% CI, 1.05–5.26).
Conclusions: Physical or sexual abuse is associated with high asthma morbidity among Puerto Rican children. To our knowledge, this is the first report of an association between childhood abuse and asthma. Our findings highlight the importance of screening for asthma among victims of childhood abuse, and to be aware of the possibility of physical or sexual abuse among children with asthma.
doi:10.1164/rccm.200711-1629OC
PMCID: PMC2542427  PMID: 18556622
asthma; children; stress; violence; abuse
5.  Sexual violence against adult women primary care attenders in east London. 
BACKGROUND: Sexual violence against women is common. The prevalence appears to be higher in north America than Europe. However, not all surveys have differentiated the experience of forced sex by a current or former partner. Few women are thought to report these experiences to their general practitioner (GP). AIM: To measure the prevalence of rape, sexual assault, and forced sexual intercourse by a partner among women attending general practices, to test the association between these experiences of sexual violence and demographic factors, and to assess the acceptability to women of screening for sexual violence by GPs. DESIGN OF STUDY: Cross-sectional survey. METHOD: A self-administered questionnaire survey of 1207 women aged over 15 years was carried out in 13 general practices in Hackney, east London. RESULTS: Eight per cent (95% confidence interval [CI] = 6.2 to 9.6) of women have experienced rape, 9% (95% CI = 7.0 to 10.6) another type of sexual assault, and 16% (95% CI = 13.6 to 18.1) forced sex by a partner in adulthood: 24% (95% CI = 21.2 to 26.5) have experienced one or more of these types of sexual violence. Experiences of sexual violence demonstrated high levels of lifetime co-occurrence. Women forced to have sex by partners experienced the most severe forms of domestic violence. One in five women would object to routine questioning about being raped and/or sexually assaulted, and one in nine about being forced to have sex by a partner. CONCLUSION: Experiences of sexual violence are common in the lives of adult women in east London, and they represent a significant public health problem. Those women who have one experience appear to be at risk of being victims again. A substantial minority object to routine questions about sexual violence.
PMCID: PMC1314728  PMID: 14702905
6.  Associations between Intimate Partner Violence and Health among Men Who Have Sex with Men: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(3):e1001609.
Ana Maria Buller and colleagues review 19 studies and estimate the associations between the experience and perpetration of intimate partner violence and various health conditions and sexual risk behaviors among men who have sex with men.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Intimate partner violence (IPV) among men who have sex with men (MSM) is a significant problem. Little is known about the association between IPV and health for MSM. We aimed to estimate the association between experience and perpetration of IPV, and various health conditions and sexual risk behaviours among MSM.
Methods and Findings
We searched 13 electronic databases up to 23 October 2013 to identify research studies reporting the odds of health conditions or sexual risk behaviours for MSM experiencing or perpetrating IPV. Nineteen studies with 13,797 participants were included in the review. Random effects meta-analyses were performed to estimate pooled odds ratios (ORs). Exposure to IPV as a victim was associated with increased odds of substance use (OR = 1.88, 95% CIOR 1.59–2.22, I2 = 46.9%, 95% CII2 0%–78%), being HIV positive (OR = 1.46, 95% CIOR 1.26–1.69, I2 = 0.0%, 95% CII2 0%–62%), reporting depressive symptoms (OR = 1.52, 95% CIOR 1.24–1.86, I2 = 9.9%, 95% CII2 0%–91%), and engagement in unprotected anal sex (OR = 1.72, 95% CIOR 1.44–2.05, I2 = 0.0%, 95% CII2 0%–68%). Perpetration of IPV was associated with increased odds of substance use (OR = 1.99, 95% CIOR 1.33–2.99, I2 = 73.1%). These results should be interpreted with caution because of methodological weaknesses such as the lack of validated tools to measure IPV in this population and the diversity of recall periods and key outcomes in the identified studies.
Conclusions
MSM who are victims of IPV are more likely to engage in substance use, suffer from depressive symptoms, be HIV positive, and engage in unprotected anal sex. MSM who perpetrate IPV are more likely to engage in substance use. Our results highlight the need for research into effective interventions to prevent IPV in MSM, as well as the importance of providing health care professionals with training in how to address issues of IPV among MSM and the need to raise awareness of local and national support services.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Intimate partner violence (IPV, also called domestic violence) is a common and widespread problem. Globally, nearly a third of women are affected by IPV at some time in their life, but the prevalence of IPV (the proportion of the population affected by IPV) varies widely between countries. In central sub-Saharan Africa, for example, nearly two-thirds of women experience IPV during their lifetime, whereas in East Asia only one-sixth of women are affected. IPV is defined as physical, sexual, or emotional harm that is perpetrated on an individual by a current or former partner or spouse. Physical violence includes hitting, kicking, and other types of physical force; sexual violence means forcing a partner to take part in a sex act when the partner does not consent; and emotional abuse includes threatening a partner by, for example, stalking them or preventing them from seeing their family. The adverse effects of IPV for women include physical injury, depression and suicidal behaviour, and sexual and reproductive health problems such as HIV infection and unwanted pregnancies.
Why Was This Study Done?
IPV affects men as well as women. Men can be subjected to IPV either by a female partner or by a male partner in the case of men who have sex with men (MSM, a term that encompasses homosexual, bisexual, and transgender men, and heterosexual men who sometimes have sex with men). Recent reviews suggest that the prevalence of IPV in same-sex couples is as high as the prevalence of IPV for women in opposite-sex relationships: reported lifetime prevalences of IPV in homosexual male relationships range between 15.4% and 51%. Little is known, however, about the adverse health effects of IPV on MSM. It is important to understand how IPV affects the health of MSM so that appropriate services and interventions can be provided to support MSM who experience IPV. In this systematic review (a study that identifies all the research on a given topic using predefined criteria) and meta-analysis (a study that combines the results of several studies using statistical methods), the researchers investigate the associations between the experience and perpetration of IPV and various health conditions and sexual risk behaviours among MSM.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 19 studies that investigated associations between IPV and various health conditions or sexual risk behaviours (for example, unprotected anal sex, a risk factor for HIV infection) among MSM. The associations were expressed as odds ratios (ORs); an OR represents the odds (chances) that an outcome will occur given a particular exposure, compared to the odds of the outcome occurring in the absence of that exposure. The researchers estimated pooled ORs from the data in the individual studies using meta-analysis. The pooled lifetime prevalence of experiencing any IPV (which was measured in six studies) was 48%. Exposure to IPV as a victim was associated with an increased risk of substance (alcohol or drug) use (OR = 1.88, data from nine studies), reporting depressive symptoms (OR = 1.52, data from three studies), being HIV positive (OR = 1.46, data from ten studies), and engagement in unprotected sex (OR = 1.72, data from eight studies). Perpetration of IPV was associated with an increased risk of substance abuse (OR = 1.99, data from six studies).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that MSM frequently experience IPV and that exposure to IPV is associated with several adverse health conditions and sexual risk behaviours. There were insufficient data to estimate the lifetime prevalence of IPV perpetration among MSM, but these findings also reveal an association between IPV perpetration and substance use. The accuracy of these findings is limited by heterogeneity (variability) between the studies included in the meta-analyses, by the design of these studies, and by the small number of studies. Despite these and other limitations, these findings highlight the need to undertake research to identify interventions to prevent IPV among MSM and to learn more about the health effects of IPV among MSM. They highlight the importance of health care professionals being aware that IPV is a problem for MSM and of training these professionals to assess MSM for IPV. Finally, these results highlight the need to improve the availability and effectiveness of support services to which health care professionals can refer MSM experiencing or perpetrating IPV.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001609.
The World Health Organization provides detailed information on intimate partner violence
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information about IPV and a fact sheet on understanding IPV that includes links to further resources
The UK National Health Service Choices website has a webpage about domestic violence, which includes descriptions of personal experiences
The US National Domestic Violence Hotline provides confidential help and support to people experiencing IPV, including MSM; its website includes personal stories of IPV
The US Gay Men's Domestic Violence Project/GLBTQ Domestic Violence Project provides support and services to MSM experiencing IPV; its website includes some personal stories
The UK not-for-profit organization Respect runs two advice lines: the Men's Advice Line provides advice and support for men experiencing domestic violence and abuse and the Respect Phoneline provides advice for domestic violence perpetrators and for professionals who would like further information about services for those using violence/abuse in their intimate partner relationships
The UK not-for-profit organization ManKind Initiative also provides support for male victims of IPV
The UK not-for-profit organization Broken Rainbow UK provides help and support for lesbians and MSM experiencing IPV
MedlinePlus provides links to other resources about domestic violence (in English and Spanish)
The UK charity Galop gives advice and support to people who have experienced biphobia, homophobia, transphobia, sexual violence, or domestic abuse
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001609
PMCID: PMC3942318  PMID: 24594975
7.  Is Food Insecurity Associated with HIV Risk? Cross-Sectional Evidence from Sexually Active Women in Brazil 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(4):e1001203.
Alexander Tsai and colleagues show that in sexually active women in Brazil severe food insecurity with hunger was positively associated with symptoms potentially indicative of sexually transmitted infection and with reduced odds of condom use.
Background
Understanding how food insecurity among women gives rise to differential patterning in HIV risks is critical for policy and programming in resource-limited settings. This is particularly the case in Brazil, which has undergone successive changes in the gender and socio-geographic composition of its complex epidemic over the past three decades. We used data from a national survey of Brazilian women to estimate the relationship between food insecurity and HIV risk.
Methods and Findings
We used data on 12,684 sexually active women from a national survey conducted in Brazil in 2006–2007. Self-reported outcomes were (a) consistent condom use, defined as using a condom at each occasion of sexual intercourse in the previous 12 mo; (b) recent condom use, less stringently defined as using a condom with the most recent sexual partner; and (c) itchy vaginal discharge in the previous 30 d, possibly indicating presence of a sexually transmitted infection. The primary explanatory variable of interest was food insecurity, measured using the culturally adapted and validated Escala Brasiliera de Segurança Alimentar. In multivariable logistic regression models, severe food insecurity with hunger was associated with a reduced odds of consistent condom use in the past 12 mo (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 0.67; 95% CI, 0.48–0.92) and condom use at last sexual intercourse (AOR = 0.75; 95% CI, 0.57–0.98). Self-reported itchy vaginal discharge was associated with all categories of food insecurity (with AORs ranging from 1.46 to 1.94). In absolute terms, the effect sizes were large in magnitude across all outcomes. Underweight and/or lack of control in sexual relations did not appear to mediate the observed associations.
Conclusions
Severe food insecurity with hunger was associated with reduced odds of condom use and increased odds of itchy vaginal discharge, which is potentially indicative of sexually transmitted infection, among sexually active women in Brazil. Interventions targeting food insecurity may have beneficial implications for HIV prevention in resource-limited settings.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
At the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, more men than women were infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, but currently half of all HIV-positive adults are women. Most women become infected with HIV through unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected male partner. Biologically, women are twice as likely to become infected through unprotected heterosexual intercourse as men. Moreover, women are often unable to negotiate condom use because of unequal gender relations—men can insist on unprotected sexual intercourse in many relationships. Another factor often related to unequal gender relations that may shape women's risk of exposure to HIV is food insecurity—limited or uncertain access to enough nutritionally adequate and safe food for an active, healthy life. Recent studies done in sub-Saharan Africa suggest that food insecurity can affect women's engagement in risky sexual behaviors such as unprotected sex, transactional sex (sexual relationships that involve the giving of goods or services such as free lodgings), and commercial sex work.
Why Was This Study Done?
Policymakers planning HIV prevention strategies in resource-limited settings need to know whether food insecurity affects sexual risk taking among women. If it increases risk taking, then interventions that target food insecurity should improve the effectiveness of HIV prevention strategies. However, little is known about food insecurity and sexual risk taking outside sub-Saharan Africa. In this cross-sectional study (a study that characterizes a population at a single point in time), the researchers investigate whether food insecurity is associated with risky sexual behavior among sexually active women in Brazil, a country where the number of new heterosexually transmitted HIV infections among women is increasing. Condom promotion is the mainstay of Brazil's HIV prevention strategy, but less than half of the population reports the use of a condom whenever sexual intercourse occurs (consistent condom use) or at last sexual intercourse (recent condom use), and a greater proportion of men than women report condom use, possibly because of unequal power relations between men and women.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers obtained data on consistent condom use, recent condom use, and self-reported itchy vaginal discharge in the previous 30 days (used here as an indication that a woman may have a sexually transmitted infection) for 12,684 sexually active women from a national survey conducted in Brazil in 2006–2007. They then used multivariable logistic regression (a statistical method) to investigate the association between these outcomes and food insecurity, which was measured using the Escala Brasiliera de Insegurança Alimentar, an 18-item questionnaire that asks people to recall information about the quantity and quality of food available to them over the previous three months. Severe food insecurity with hunger (the most extreme category of food insecurity) was associated with an adjusted odds ratio (AOR) for consistent condom use of 0.67. That is, women who reported severe food insecurity were two-thirds as likely to use a condom whenever they had sexual intercourse as women who were food secure, after adjustment for other factors that might have affected condom use. The probability of consistent condom use was 15% among women who were food secure but only 10.5% among women who had the worst food security. Severe food insecurity with hunger was also associated with a reduced odds of recent condom use (AOR = 0.75), whereas all categories of food insecurity increased the odds of a recent itchy vaginal discharge.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that severe food insecurity with hunger is associated with reduced condom use and with increased occurrence of symptoms that may indicate sexually transmitted disease among sexually active women in Brazil. Because the study looked at women at only a single time point, these findings do not show that food insecurity causes risky sexual behavior. Moreover, these findings may not be generalizable to other settings, and they do not distinguish between regular condom use with a regular partner and regular condom use with casual partners. Also, although the researchers investigated two hypothesized explanations—lack of control in sexual relations and chronic energy deficiency—neither of these factors could explain why food insecurity is associated with risky sexual behavior. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that interventions that target sexual risk reduction behaviors are unlikely to be optimally effective if food insecurity is not taken into account, and, thus, the researchers conclude, HIV prevention strategies in Brazil should include interventions that target food insecurity.
Additional Information
Please access these web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001203.
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on all aspects of HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS, and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment (in several languages)
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including detailed information on HIV and AIDS prevention, women, HIV, and AIDS, and HIV and AIDS in Brazil (in English and Spanish); personal stories of women living with HIV are available
HIV InSite provides comprehensive and up-to-date information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS from the University of California at San Francisco
Additional patient stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through the charity website Healthtalkonline
A primer on food security from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is available
Information about the 2006–2007 Brazilian national survey on health in women and children is available in Portuguese; a profile of food security in Brazil is also available (some information in English but mainly in Portuguese)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001203
PMCID: PMC3323512  PMID: 22505852
8.  National Prevalence of PTSD Among Sexually Revictimized Adolescent, College, and Adult Household-Residing Women 
Archives of general psychiatry  2012;69(9):935-942.
Context
Despite empirical links between sexual revictimization (i.e., experiencing two or more sexual assaults) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), no epidemiological studies document the prevalence of sexual revictimization and PTSD. Establishing estimates is essential to determine the scope, public health impact, and psychiatric sequelae of sexual revictimization.
Objective
Estimate the prevalence of sexual revictimization and PTSD among three national female samples (adolescent, college, adult household probability).
Design
Surveys were used to collect data from The National Women’s Study – Replication (2006; college) as well as household probability samples from the National Survey of Adolescents-Replication (2005) and the National Women’s Study-Replication (2006; household probability).
Setting
Households and college campuses across the U.S.
Participants
1,763 adolescent girls, 2,000 college women, and 3,001 household-residing adult women.
Main Outcomes
Behaviorally specific questions assessed unwanted sexual acts occurring over the lifespan due to use of force, threat of force, or incapacitation via drug or alcohol use. PTSD was assessed with a module validated against the criterion standard, Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV.
Results
52.7% of victimized adolescents, 50.0% of victimized college women, and 58.8% of victimized household-residing women reported sexual revictimization. Current PTSD was reported by 20.0% of revictimized adolescents, 40.0% of revictimized college women, and 27.2% of revictimized household-residing women. Compared to non-victims, odds of meeting past 6-month PTSD were 4.3–8.2 times higher for revictimized respondents and 2.4–3.5 times higher for single victims.
Conclusions
Population prevalence estimates suggest that 769,000 adolescent girls, 625,000 college women, and 13.4 million women in US households reported sexual revictimization. Further, 154,000 sexually revictimized adolescents, 250,000 sexually revictimized college women, and 3.6 million sexually revictimized household women met criteria for past 6-month PTSD. Findings highlight the importance of screening for sexual revictimization and PTSD in pediatric, college, and primary care settings.
doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2012.132
PMCID: PMC3474859  PMID: 22566561
9.  CHILD PHYSICAL AND SEXUAL ABUSE: A COMPREHENSIVE LOOK AT ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION PATTERNS, CONSEQUENCES AND DEPENDENCE FROM THE NATIONAL ALCOHOL SURVEY 
Background
Previous research has documented a relationship between child sexual abuse and alcohol dependence. This paper extends that work by providing a comprehensive description of past year and lifetime alcohol consumption patterns, consequences and dependence among women reporting either child physical and sexual abuse in a national sample of women.
Methods
This study used survey data from 3,680 women who participated in the 2005 U.S. National Alcohol Survey. Information on physical and sexual child abuse and its characteristics were assessed in relation to 8 past year and lifetime alcohol consumption measures.
Results
Child physical or sexual abuse was significantly associated with past year and lifetime alcohol consumption measures. In multivariate analyses, controlling for age, marital status, employment status, education, ethnicity and parental alcoholism or problem drinking, women reporting child sexual abuse vs. no abuse were more likely to report past year heavy episodic drinking (ORadj=1.7; 95% CI 1.0–2.9), alcohol dependence (ORadj=7.2; 95% CI 3.2–16.5), and alcohol consequences (ORadj=3.6; 95% CI 1.8–7.3). Sexual abuse (vs. no abuse) was associated with a greater number of past year drinks (124 vs. 74 drinks respectively, p=.002). Sexual child abuse was also associated with lifetime alcohol related consequences (ORadj=3.5; 95% CI 2.6–4.8), and dependence (ORadj=3.7; 95% CI 2.6–5.3). Physical child abuse was associated with 4 of 8 alcohol measures in multivariate models. Both physical and sexual child abuse were associated with getting into fights, health, legal, work and family alcohol related consequences. Alcohol related consequences and dependence were more common for women reporting sexual abuse compared to physical abuse, 2 or more physical abuse perpetrators, non-parental and non-family physical abuse perpetrators and women reporting injury related to the abuse.
Conclusion
Both child physical and sexual abuse were associated with many alcohol outcomes in adult women, even when controlling for parental alcohol problems. The study results point to the need to screen for and treat underlying issues related to child abuse, particularly in an alcohol treatment setting.
doi:10.1111/j.1530-0277.2010.01347.x
PMCID: PMC3026876  PMID: 21083668
child sexual abuse; child physical abuse; alcohol consequences; alcohol dependence; intoxication; binge drinking
10.  Sexual Aggression Victimization and Perpetration among Male and Female College Students in Chile 
Frontiers in Psychology  2016;7:1354.
Evidence on the prevalence of sexual aggression among college students is primarily based on studies from Western countries. In Chile, a South American country strongly influenced by the Catholic Church, little research on sexual aggression among college students is available. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to examine the prevalence of sexual aggression victimization and perpetration since the age of 14 (the legal age of consent) in a sample of male and female students aged between 18 and 29 years from five Chilean universities (N = 1135), to consider possible gender differences, and to study the extent to which alcohol was involved in the reported incidents of perpetration and victimization. Sexual aggression victimization and perpetration was measured with a Chilean Spanish version of the Sexual Aggression and Victimization Scale (SAV-S), which includes three coercive strategies (use or threat of physical force, exploitation of an incapacitated state, and verbal pressure), three victim-perpetrator constellations (current or former partners, friends/acquaintances, and strangers), and four sexual acts (sexual touch, attempted sexual intercourse, completed sexual intercourse, and other sexual acts, such as oral sex). Overall, 51.9% of women and 48.0% of men reported at least one incident of sexual victimization, and 26.8% of men and 16.5% of women reported at least one incident of sexual aggression perpetration since the age of 14. For victimization, only few gender differences were found, but significantly more men than women reported sexual aggression perpetration. A large proportion of perpetrators also reported victimization experiences. Regarding victim-perpetrator relationship, sexual aggression victimization and perpetration were more common between persons who knew each other than between strangers. Alcohol use by the perpetrator, victim, or both was involved in many incidents of sexual aggression victimization and perpetration, particularly among strangers. The present data are the first to provide a systematic and detailed picture of sexual aggression among college students in Chile, including victimization and perpetration reports by both men and women and confirming the critical role of alcohol established in past research from Western countries.
doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01354
PMCID: PMC5030277  PMID: 27708593
sexual aggression; victimization; perpetration; prevalence; coercive strategies; relationship constellations; alcohol; Chile
11.  Medico-Legal Findings, Legal Case Progression, and Outcomes in South African Rape Cases: Retrospective Review 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(10):e1000164.
Rachel Jewkes and colleagues examine the processing of rape cases by South African police and courts and show an association between documentation of ano-genital injuries, trials commencing, and convictions in rape cases.
Background
Health services for victims of rape are recognised as a particularly neglected area of the health sector internationally. Efforts to strengthen these services need to be guided by clinical research. Expert medical evidence is widely used in rape cases, but its contribution to the progress of legal cases is unclear. Only three studies have found an association between documented bodily injuries and convictions in rape cases. This article aims to describe the processing of rape cases by South African police and courts, and the association between documented injuries and DNA and case progression through the criminal justice system.
Methods and Findings
We analysed a provincially representative sample of 2,068 attempted and completed rape cases reported to 70 randomly selected Gauteng province police stations in 2003. Data sheets were completed from the police dockets and available medical examination forms were copied. 1,547 cases of rape had medical examinations and available forms and were analysed, which was at least 85% of the proportion of the sample having a medical examination. We present logistic regression models of the association between whether a trial started and whether the accused was found guilty and the medico-legal findings for adult and child rapes. Half the suspects were arrested (n = 771), 14% (209) of cases went to trial, and in 3% (31) of adults and 7% (44) of children there was a conviction. A report on DNA was available in 1.4% (22) of cases, but the presence or absence of injuries were documented in all cases. Documented injuries were not associated with arrest, but they were associated with children's cases (but not adult's) going to trial (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] for having genital and nongenital injuries 5.83, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.87–18.13, p = 0.003). In adult cases a conviction was more likely if there were documented injuries, whether nongenital injuries alone AOR 6.25 (95% CI 1.14–34.3, p = 0.036), ano-genital injuries alone (AOR 7.00, 95% CI 1.44–33.9, p = 0.017), or both nongenital and ano-genital injuries (AOR 12.34, 95% CI 2.87–53.0, p = 0.001). DNA was not associated with case outcome.
Conclusions
This is the first study, to our knowledge, to show an association between documentation of ano-genital injuries, trials commencing, and convictions in rape cases in a developing country. Its findings are of particular importance because they show the value of good basic medical practices in documentation of injuries, rather than more expensive DNA evidence, in assisting courts in rape cases. Health care providers need training to provide high quality health care responses after rape, but we have shown that the core elements of the medico-legal response require very little technology. As such they should be replicable in low- and middle-income country settings. Our findings raise important questions about the value of evidence that requires the use of forensic laboratories at a population level in countries like South Africa that have substantial inefficiencies in their police services.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Sexual violence has significant short- and long-term mental and physical health consequences for the victim. Estimates of how common rape is vary within and between countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that between 1% and 12% of women aged 15 or over have experienced sexual violence by a nonpartner. It has also been used as a weapon of war.
The WHO recognises that rape may be committed by a spouse, partner, or acquaintance as well as a stranger, that men can be victims as well as perpetrators, and that coercion need not be physical. It advocates preventing sexual violence through better support for victims, legal and policy changes, educational programmes, and campaigns to change attitudes, and better health care services and training for health care workers.
Health services for victims of rape have two important roles: to assist the victim and to gather evidence for the police and courts. Nonetheless, health services for victims of rape are often poor. Over the last decade, the South African government has taken steps to reduce particularly high rates of sexual violence by broadening the legal definition of rape and improving health services.
Why Was This Study Done?
Previous studies into how useful expert medical evidence is for the police and courts have focused almost exclusively on high-income countries. It is not clear what interventions work best in countries with fewer resources. The researchers wanted to know the impact of medical evidence on how the South African criminal justice system handled cases of rape and attempted rape.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The authors analysed data from police and court files of 1,547 cases of rape or attempted rape first reported in 2003 to a random sample of police stations in Gauteng province, South Africa. They looked for associations between case data and the arrest, charge, trial, and conviction or acquittal of the alleged perpetrator. They included only cases that were closed when they collected data in 2006 and only cases that contained a record of a medical examination of the victim. The researchers used South Africa's then legal definition of rape as “intentional and unlawful vaginal sex with woman without consent.” They analysed cases involving adults and children (aged 0–17 years) separately. They found that the overall conviction rate was very low, with only 3% of adult cases and 7.4% of children's cases resulting in a guilty verdict. Many cases were dropped at each stage of the legal process and DNA evidence was often not collected or, if collected, not analysed. DNA reports were rarely available for the courts. Injuries were not associated with arrests for either adult or children's cases; an arrest took place in 40% of cases without injuries. Child cases were more likely to come to trial if injuries were present, although a guilty verdict was not more likely. The reverse was true in adult cases: the presence or absence of injury was not linked to cases being brought to trial, but if injuries were present, whether genital, nongenital, or both, a conviction was more likely.
What Do These Findings Mean?
One limitation of the research is that the researchers identified statistical associations of events, but this does not prove that one event caused the other. Other possible limitations of the study are that the researchers had access only to cases closed by the police, which may have biased their results, and the quality of the recorded data was very variable. In addition, the research did not consider other factors that may have affected case outcomes, such as how witnesses are perceived in court.
The system to collect and analyse DNA was rarely effective in making evidence available to the courts. It is known from other countries with effective systems that DNA evidence is of no value if the basis of defence is consent; for instance in cases where the accused is an intimate partner of the victim. Injuries appear not to be necessary to secure a conviction but may be seen as useful by the South African courts in corroborating the victim's testimony, at least in adult cases.
The authors conclude that in poor countries, training for nurses and/or doctors who act as forensic medical examiners in how to record injuries and present their evidence in court will be more effective than investing in costly systems for DNA analysis. However, they argue that in South Africa, as a middle-income country with a high proportion of nonintimate partner rapes, there would be benefit in improving the system to collect and analyse DNA evidence rather than abandoning it entirely.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000164.
Further information on rape in South Africa is available from the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre
Information on rape is also available from the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust
Emergency rape information, facts about rape, events, legal services, and medical care can be found at the Speakout Web site
The World Health Organization publishes a factsheet on sexual violence, a report on violence and health, as well as guidelines on medico-legal care for victims of sexual violence
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000164
PMCID: PMC2752115  PMID: 19823567
12.  Intimate Partner Violence and Depression Symptom Severity among South African Women during Pregnancy and Postpartum: Population-Based Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2016;13(1):e1001943.
Background
Violence against women by intimate partners remains unacceptably common worldwide. The evidence base for the assumed psychological impacts of intimate partner violence (IPV) is derived primarily from studies conducted in high-income countries. A recently published systematic review identified 13 studies linking IPV to incident depression, none of which were conducted in sub-Saharan Africa. To address this gap in the literature, we analyzed longitudinal data collected during the course of a 3-y cluster-randomized trial with the aim of estimating the association between IPV and depression symptom severity.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a secondary analysis of population-based, longitudinal data collected from 1,238 pregnant women during a 3-y cluster-randomized trial of a home visiting intervention in Cape Town, South Africa. Surveys were conducted at baseline, 6 mo, 18 mo, and 36 mo (85% retention). The primary explanatory variable of interest was exposure to four types of physical IPV in the past year. Depression symptom severity was measured using the Xhosa version of the ten-item Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. In a pooled cross-sectional multivariable regression model adjusting for potentially confounding time-fixed and time-varying covariates, lagged IPV intensity had a statistically significant association with depression symptom severity (regression coefficient b = 1.04; 95% CI, 0.61–1.47), with estimates from a quantile regression model showing greater adverse impacts at the upper end of the conditional depression distribution. Fitting a fixed effects regression model accounting for all time-invariant confounding (e.g., history of childhood sexual abuse) yielded similar findings (b = 1.54; 95% CI, 1.13–1.96). The magnitudes of the coefficients indicated that a one–standard-deviation increase in IPV intensity was associated with a 12.3% relative increase in depression symptom severity over the same time period. The most important limitations of our study include exposure assessment that lacked measurement of sexual violence, which could have caused us to underestimate the severity of exposure; the extended latency period in the lagged analysis, which could have caused us to underestimate the strength of the association; and outcome assessment that was limited to the use of a screening instrument for depression symptom severity.
Conclusions
In this secondary analysis of data from a population-based, 3-y cluster-randomized controlled trial, IPV had a statistically significant association with depression symptom severity. The estimated associations were relatively large in magnitude, consistent with findings from high-income countries, and robust to potential confounding by time-invariant factors. Intensive health sector responses to reduce IPV and improve women’s mental health should be explored.
In a population-based prospective cohort study, Alexander C. Tsai and colleagues examine bidirectional associations between intimate partner violence and depressed mood among pregnant and postpartum women living near Cape Town, South Africa.
Editors' Summary
Background
Violence against women perpetrated by an intimate partner is a common and widespread problem. Rates of intimate partner violence (IPV, also called domestic violence) vary widely between countries but, globally, nearly a third of women experience IPV at some time in their life. IPV is defined as physical, sexual, or emotional violence that is perpetrated on an individual by a current or former partner or spouse. Physical violence includes slapping, pushing or shoving, hitting with a fist or another object, and threatening or attacking a partner with a weapon; sexual violence means forcing a partner to take part in a sex act when the partner does not give consent; and emotional violence includes threatening a partner by, for example, preventing them seeing their family. The adverse effects of IPV against women include physical injury and sexual and reproductive health problems such as HIV infection and unwanted pregnancies.
Why Was This Study Done?
Studies undertaken in high-income countries have also shown an association between IPV and adverse mental health outcomes among women, such as depression (long-lasting and overwhelming feelings of sadness and hopelessness) and suicidal behavior. However, few if any studies on the association between IPV and depression have been conducted in sub-Saharan Africa, where the rates of IPV against women are among the highest in the world. In this population-based prospective cohort study, the researchers analyze longitudinal data collected during a cluster-randomized trial that involved more than 1,200 women living in townships near Cape Town, South Africa. The primary aim of this randomized trial was to investigate whether regular visits by “mentor mothers” (women who had successfully raised children in the face of adversity) improved maternal and child health in the 3 y following the child’s birth. As part of this trial, the researchers collected data at multiple time points (longitudinal data) on women’s experiences of IPV and symptoms of depression. Here, the researchers conduct a secondary analysis of these data to estimate the association between IPV severity and depression symptom severity among women during and following pregnancy.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
During the cluster-randomized trial, the researchers asked the women about their exposure to physical IPV during the past year in surveys undertaken at baseline, 6 mo, 18 mo, and 36 mo. Depression symptom severity was also measured in the women at these time points using a version of the ten-item Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale in the local language Xhosa; this scale is an instrument that screens for postnatal depression by asking questions about depressive symptoms experienced during the past seven days by women who have recently had a baby, such as how often they have felt sad or miserable. Statistical analyses of these data indicated that, after allowing for other factors that might affect depression symptom severity, IPV intensity had a statistically significant association (an association unlikely to have arisen by chance) with depression symptom severity. That is, an increase in IPV severity among the study participants was associated with an increase in depression symptom severity over the same period. Notably, this association was bidirectional. That is, depression symptom severity also had a statistically significant association with IPV intensity.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that, among women living in poor neighborhoods in Cape Town who have recently had a baby, IPV severity had a statistically significant association with depression symptom severity. The magnitude of this association was relatively large and consistent with findings from high-income countries. The accuracy of these findings may be limited by certain aspects of this study. For example, because the study participants were not asked about sexual violence, the severity of IPV exposure may be underestimated. Nevertheless, these findings—in particular, the demonstration that the association between IPV and depression is bilateral—have important policy and programmatic implications for women’s health in sub-Saharan Africa. Specifically, because IPV and depression may be intertwined in a vicious cycle, with IPV increasing the risk of future depression and depression increasing the risk of future victimization, multi-component interventions that combine a broad-based package of services (for example, provision of legal aid, transitional housing, and childcare support) with interventions designed to treat depression (for example cognitive-behavioral therapy) may be needed to reduce IPV and improve women’s mental health.
Additional Information
This list of resources contains links that can be accessed when viewing the PDF on a device or via the online version of the article at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001943.
A PLOS Medicine Research Article by Devries et al. reviews the evidence from high-income countries for an association between IPV and depression
The World Health Organization provides detailed information on intimate partner violence and on depression (some information in several languages)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about intimate partner violence, including some personal stories, and detailed information about depression
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information about intimate partner violence and links to further resources
The US National Domestic Violence Hotline provides confidential help and support to people experiencing IPV; its website includes personal stories of IPV
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information on all aspects of depression
MedlinePlus provides links to other resources about domestic violence and about depression (in English and Spanish)
More information about the "mentor mother" trial is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001943
PMCID: PMC4718639  PMID: 26784110
13.  The Relationship Between Sexual Victimization and Year in School in U.S. Colleges: Investigating the Parameters of the “Red Zone” 
Journal of interpersonal violence  2014;30(17):3133-3145.
It is the conventional wisdom among some universities that the highest risk of sexual assault is in the first or possibly second year in school. While initially belief in this pattern was primarily based on anecdote, recently some attempts have been made to more systematically and quantitatively test the existence of a “red zone,” a time of heightened risk of sexual assault sometime near the beginning of a female student's time at the college. However, most of these studies have been conducted with relatively small convenience samples from single schools and have had conflicting results. Here, I test the red zone hypothesis using self-reported sexual victimization data with a large sample (∼16,000) drawn from 22 schools as part of the Online College Social Life Survey. To investigate the specific mechanisms responsible for the red zone, I separately test for the existence of a red zone for four different types of sexual victimizations: physically forced intercourse, attempted forced intercourse, unwanted intercourse when incapacitated, and unwanted intercourse due to verbal pressure. Within these categories, I separately address sexual victimization that occurred while hanging out and sexual victimization during a party. Prior literature has emphasized the role of parties in the increased risk of assault for freshman. While I find some evidence for this in the higher estimates for sexual victimization at a party, the freshman effect remains for other types of sexual victimizations, suggesting that the red zone is not easily attributable to a single mechanistic cause, but to more generalizable factors. With one exception, I find that the red zone does not extend into the sophomore year.
doi:10.1177/0886260514554425
PMCID: PMC4777608  PMID: 25395226
sexual assault; alcohol and drugs; adult victims; situational factors
14.  Lifetime victimization and past year alcohol use in a U.S. population sample of men and women drinkers 
Drug and Alcohol Dependence  2011;123(1-3):213-219.
Background
Research on alcohol use among victims of physical and sexual violence has focused mostly on women and alcohol use disorders. It is also limited by the relative lack of consideration of victimization over the lifetime and of population data on both men and women. We critically examined associations between lifetime victimization and diverse past year alcohol use patterns and problems and whether these associations differ for men and women.
Methods
Population data from the 2005 U.S. National Alcohol Survey (NAS11, n=6919) are reported for 4256 adult men and women drinkers. Logistic regressions assessed associations between physical only or any sexual victimization experienced over the lifetime and past year heavy episodic drinking, drinking to intoxication, alcohol-related consequences and any alcohol use disorder. Models controlled for demographics and parental history of alcohol abuse and examined interactions of gender with victimization.
Results
Associations between victimization experienced over the lifetime and all past year alcohol measures were significant for both men and women. These associations did not differ by type of lifetime victimization (physical only versus any sexual). The association of physical only victimization with drinking to intoxication was stronger for victimized versus non victimized women compared to victimized versus non victimized men. This gender difference ceased to be significant when specific victimization characteristics were controlled for.
Conclusions
Lifetime victimization is associated with increased risk for diverse alcohol use problems for both men and women. All prevention and treatment programs should screen men and women for lifetime victimization and diverse alcohol use problems.
doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2011.11.016
PMCID: PMC3322290  PMID: 22177898
victimization; lifetime; alcohol use patterns; problems; gender
15.  Sexual assault among North Carolina women: prevalence and health risk factors 
Study objective: Sexual assault is traumatic at the time it occurs, but it also may have longlasting negative effects on physical health. Much of the research linking specific health problems to sexual assault victimisation has used samples from special populations. The goals of this study are to estimate the prevalence of sexual assault in a representative sample of women in North Carolina and examine sexual assault in relation to specific health risk factors for leading causes of morbidity and mortality in women.
Design: The North Carolina Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is a household telephone survey of non-institutionalised adults, 18 years of age and older, conducted by random digit dialling.
Setting: This investigation focuses on the study participants in the 1997 survey.
Participants: The sample includes 2109 women who responded to the sexual assault questions in the 1997 North Carolina BRFSS interview.
Main results: The lifetime prevalence of sexual assault was 19% (95% CI 17% to 20%), of which 73% of victims experienced or were threatened with forced sexual intercourse. Sexual assault victims, particularly victims of forced intercourse or the threat thereof, were more likely to perceive their general health as being fair or poor (OR=2.3, 95% CI 1.5 to 3.4) and were more likely to have suffered poor physical and mental health in the past month (poor physical health, OR=2.1, 95% CI 1.6 to 2.8; poor mental health, OR= 2.6, 95% CI 1.9 to 3.5). After controlling for sociodemographic factors and health care coverage, victims of forced intercourse or the threat thereof were more likely to smoke cigarettes (OR=2.0, 95% CI 1.4 to 2.8), to have hypertension (OR=1.5, 95% CI 1.1 to 2.2), to have high cholesterol (OR=1.7, 95% CI 1.2 to 2.5), and to be obese (OR=1.7, 95% CI 1.3 to 2.4).
Conclusions: This study shows associations between sexual victimisation and health risk factors in a non-clinical statewide population of women. Future research should determine whether clinically screening for and identifying a history of sexual victimisation among women seen in a variety of health care settings leads to the initiation of effective interventions that help women successfully cope with these violent experiences. There is also a need for further research to investigate the temporal sequence of assaults and subsequent health outcomes by assessing physical health status before and after victimisation.
doi:10.1136/jech.56.4.265
PMCID: PMC1732116  PMID: 11896133
16.  Intimate Partner Violence and Anal Intercourse among Young Adult Heterosexual Relationships 
Context
The prevalence of intimate partner violence and anal intercourse is high in young adult relationships, but few have looked the intersection of the two. This paper considers this association within multiple intimate partner violence contexts.
Methods
Using wave 3 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, an analysis was completed on the association of physical and sexual intimate partner violence and anal intercourse in relationships reported by young women. This wave was collected from 2001–2002 when the women were between 18 and 28 years old. A hierarchical random effects model was used to control for the clustered survey design and multiple relationships reported per participant. This analysis included 10,462 relationships reported by 6,280 women.
Results
In multivariate analysis, relationships where women perpetrated physical violence (AOR 1.9) and relationships that were reciprocally physically violent (AOR 1.7) were more likely to include anal intercourse than non-abusive relationships. Among those that included anal intercourse, relationships where the woman was a victim of physical violence (AOR 0.2) were less likely to have ever used a condom during anal intercourse. There was no association between sexual violence and condom use.
Conclusion
These analyses demonstrate that women in violent relationships may be at increased risk of sexually transmitted infections due to unprotected anal intercourse. More information on the context surrounding anal intercourse and intimate partner violence is needed in order to understand the nuances of this association.
doi:10.1363/4500613
PMCID: PMC3843245  PMID: 23489852
17.  A 20-year retrospective cohort study of TB infection among the Hill-tribe HIV/AIDS populations, Thailand 
Background
A retrospective cohort study was conducted to determine the situation, trend, and factors associated with TB infection, and factors related to the life status among the HIV/AIDS Hill-tribe in Northern Thailand. Hill-tribe people have been migrating to and formed settlements along the Thai border areas for many decades. There are now having 1.6 million people of 6 different groups–Akha, Lahu, Lisu, Hmong, Yao and Keren–each with a specific culture, language and lifestyle. The Hill-tribe becomes a new vulnerable of HIV and TB infections in Thailand.
Methods
A systematic data-reviewing approach was used to identify the information from the rosters of ARV clinics, OPD cards, and laboratory reports from 16 hospitals in Chiang Rai Province, Thailand. The data were collected from the first reported HIV/AIDS case of the Hill-tribe to the end of 2010. A chi-square test and logistic regression models were used to identify associations at the significance level of alpha = 0.05.
Results
A total of 3,130 cases were included in the study. The majority of patients were Akha (46.0 %) followed by Lahu (19.7 %), 54.6 % were males, 44.6 % were 26–35 years old. The major risk factor of HIV infection was sexual intercourse (93.1 %); 23.9 % were still alive at the date of data collection, 30.7 % were diagnosed with pulmonary TB. The Akha Hill-tribe HIV/AIDS individuals had a greater chance of TB infection than did Yao individuals with ORadj = 1.50 (95 % CI = 1.01-1.92). Females had a greater chance of TB infection than males with ORadj = 1.33 (95 % CI = 1.11-1.59); being classified as HIV and AIDS groups had a greater chance of TB infection than those asymptomatic group with ORadj = 11.59 (95 % CI = 7.19-18.71), and ORadj = 1.71 (95 % CI = 1.03-2.87); and not having received the ARV group had a greater chance of TB infection than those who having received the ARV group with ORadj = 2.59 (95 % CI = 2.09-3.22). The patients who had been diagnosed with HIV infection during 1990–1995 and 1996–2000 had less chance of TB infection than those who were diagnosed from 2006–2010, with ORadj = 0.04 (95 % CI = 0.01-0.14) and 0.11 (95 % CI = 0.07-0.17), respectively. Regarding life status; females had a better chance of being still alive at the date of data collection than being males with ORadj = 1.41 (95 % CI = 1.19-1.66). Those who had a defined route of transmission in the category of “mother-to-child” and “IDU” had a better chance of being still alive compared to those who contracted HIV from “sexual intercourse,” with ORadj = 2.05 (95 % CI = 1.56-2.18), and ORadj = 8.45 (95 % CI = 1.55-46.13), respectively.
Conclusions
Thailand needs to create a TB and HIV/AIDS surveillance system for Hill-tribe populations to determine the situation and trend and to develop an appropriate model for providing care at the earlier stage of HIV/AIDS infection to prevent later TB infection.
doi:10.1186/s12879-016-1407-4
PMCID: PMC4746815  PMID: 26861536
HIV/AIDS; TB; Hill-tribe; ARV; Thailand
18.  Suffering in silence: consequences of sexual violence within marriage among young women in Nepal 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:29.
Background
Despite the grave consequences of sexual violence, and it's persistence both within and outside marriages, this subject has received relatively little attention from researchers, policy makers, and programme managers in Nepal. This paper explores the definition of sexual violence and its various forms and consequences as reported by young married women in Nepal. In addition, it describes the coping mechanisms used by young married women to avoid sexual violence perpetrated against them by their husbands.
Methods
This paper analyzes data collected during the qualitative study on "Sexual violence among young couples in Nepal", conducted amongst two major ethnic groups - Brahmin/Chhetri and Tharu - between 2006 and 2007. The data is comprised of 39 free-lists and 15 in-depth case histories with married women aged 15-24 years. The average rank and Smith's Salience were calculated from the free-listing data. The thematic analysis approach was used for the analysis of information from the case histories.
Results
Approximately three-quarters (74%) of the young women mentioned 'sex against one's wishes' as sexual violence within marriage (SVWM). Sixty-two percent of respondents described 'forced sex during illness' and 'forced sex after consumption of alcohol' as SVWM. About half of young women (48.7%) who participated in the free-listing exercise reported having experienced SVWM. The types of SVWM ranged from unwanted sexual touch to forced sex. Backache, headache, lower abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding and thoughts of suicide were the most commonly reported negative physical and psychological health consequences of SVWM. Women reported various coping strategies including 'trying to convince husbands', 'sleeping in a separate room', 'visiting maternal home', 'waking up the children', and 'using pretexts such as being ill or menstruating', to avoid SVWM. However, in most cases, women reported that these coping strategies were unsuccessful. Almost all women experiencing SVWM were socially isolated and did not turn to institutions, relatives or friends for advice and support.
Conclusions
Sexual violence within marriage is common in Nepal. Findings provide circumstantial evidence of links between sexual violence and negative general and reproductive health outcomes for women. Various actions are required to prevent SVWM and provide immediate support to the victims.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-29
PMCID: PMC3091539  PMID: 21223603
19.  Sexual Coercion and Sexual Violence at First Intercourse Associated with Sexually Transmitted Infections 
Sexually transmitted diseases  2013;40(10):771-775.
Background
Violence against women has been associated with subsequent risky sexual behaviors and sexually transmitted infections. We explored whether sexual coercion or violence at first intercourse was associated with self-reported sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Methods
Using nationally representative data from the 2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth, we analyzed female respondents ages 18–44 (n=9,466) who answered questions on coercion at first intercourse (wantedness, voluntariness and types of force used) and STIs using logistic regression analyses. We explored degrees of coercion, which we label as neither, sexual coercion (unwanted or nonphysical force), or sexual violence (involuntary or physical force).
Results
Eighteen percent of US women reported sexual coercion and 8.4% experienced sexual violence at first intercourse. Compared with women who experienced neither, the odds of reporting a STI was significantly greater for women who experienced sexual coercion (OR: 1.27, 95% CI: 1.01–1.60), after controlling for all variables. The association between sexual violence at first intercourse and STIs (OR: 1.20, 95% CI: 0.91–1.57) appeared to be attenuated by subsequent sexual violence.
Conclusions
Understanding that women who reported a variety of coercive sexual experiences are more likely to have contracted an STI may indicate a need to focus on the broader continuum of sexual violence to fully understand the impact of even subtle forms of violence on women’s health. In addition, focusing on subsequent sexual behaviors and other negative consequences remains important in order to improve the sexual health of women who have experienced coercive sexual intercourse.
doi:10.1097/OLQ.0000000000000011
PMCID: PMC3927639  PMID: 24275726
violence; sexually transmitted infections; women; coercion; sexual assault
20.  Violence against wives, sexual risk and sexually transmitted infection among Bangladeshi men 
Sexually Transmitted Infections  2007;83(3):211-215.
Objective
To assess the relationship between men's reported violence against wives and their sexual risk behaviours and sexual health.
Design, setting and participants
Cross‐sectional analyses of a survey of a nationally representative household‐based sample of married men in Bangladesh (n = 3096).
Main outcome measure(s)
Physical and sexual violence against wives during the previous 12 months was assessed and examined for relations to men's extramarital sexual behaviours and sexually transmitted infection (STI) symptoms or diagnosis during this same period, as well as to men's disclosure of such infection to wives and condom use while infected.
Results
More than 1 in 3 (36.84%) married Bangladeshi men reported physically and/or sexually abusing their wives in the past year. Men perpetrating such violence were more likely to report both premarital and extramarital sex partners (ORadjs 1.80–3.45; 95% CI 1.20 to 8.23); those reporting physical violence were more likely to report STI symptoms or diagnosis in the past year (ORadjs 1.68–2.52; 95% CI 1.24 to 3.73). Men perpetrating physical violence and contracting an STI were somewhat more likely to fail to disclose infection status to wives (ORadj 1.58; 95% CI 0.93 to 2.70) than infected men not reporting such abuse.
Conclusions
Violence against wives is common among Bangladeshi men. Men who perpetrate such abuse represent increased risk regarding their wives' sexual health because they are more likely to both participate in extramarital sexual behaviour and contract an STI compared with non‐abusive husbands. Given the growing epidemic of HIV infection among monogamous South Asian women based on intercourse with infected non‐monogamous husbands, research and intervention regarding men's violence in marriage and implications of such behaviour for women's sexual health should be prioritised.
doi:10.1136/sti.2006.023366
PMCID: PMC2659096  PMID: 17301104
21.  History of dating violence and the association with late adolescent health 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:821.
Background
The present investigation expands upon prior studies by examining the relationship between health in late adolescence and the experience of physical/sexual and non-physical dating violence victimization, including dating violence types that are relevant to today’s adolescents (e.g., harassment via email and text messaging). We examined the relationship between physical/sexual and non-physical dating violence victimization from age 13 to 19 and health in late adolescence/early adulthood.
Methods
The sample comprised 585 subjects (ages 18 to 21; mean age, 19.8, SD = 1.0) recruited from The Ohio State University who completed an online survey to assess: 1) current health (depression, disordered eating, binge drinking, smoking, and frequent sexual behavior); and 2) dating violence victimization from age 13 to 19 (retrospectively assessed using eight questions covering physical, sexual, and non-physical abuse, including technology-related abuse involving stalking/harassment via text messaging and email). Multivariable models compared health indicators in never-exposed subjects to those exposed to physical/sexual or non-physical dating violence only. The multivariable models were adjusted for age and other non-dating abuse victimization (bullying; punched, kicked, choked by a parent/guardian; touched in a sexual place, forced to touch someone sexually).
Results
In adjusted analyses, compared to non-exposed females, females with physical/sexual dating violence victimization were at increased risk of smoking (prevalence ratio = 3.95); depressive symptoms (down/hopeless, PR = 2.00; lost interest, PR = 1.79); eating disorders (using diet aids, PR = 1.98; fasting, PR = 4.71; vomiting to lose weight, PR = 4.33); and frequent sexual behavior (5+ intercourse and oral sex partners, PR = 2.49, PR = 2.02; having anal sex, PR = 2.82). Compared to non-exposed females, females with non-physical dating violence only were at increased risk of smoking (PR = 3.61), depressive symptoms (down/hopeless, PR = 1.41; lost interest, PR = 1.36), eating disorders (fasting, PR = 3.37; vomiting, PR = 2.66), having 5+ intercourse partners (PR = 2.20), and having anal sex (PR = 2.18). For males, no health differences were observed for those experiencing physical/sexual dating violence compared to those who did not. Compared to non-exposed males, males with non-physical dating violence only were at increased risk of smoking (PR = 3.91) and disordered eating (fasting, using diet aids, vomiting, PR = 2.93).
Conclusions
For females, more pronounced adverse health was observed for those exposed to physical/sexual versus non-physical dating violence. For both females and males, non-physical dating violence victimization contributed to poor health.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-821
PMCID: PMC3847300  PMID: 24015863
Adolescents; Adolescent sexual behavior; Dating violence; Depression; Eating disorders
22.  Violence in the United States 
JAMA  2015;314(5):478-488.
IMPORTANCE
Interpersonal violence, which includes child abuse and neglect, youth violence, intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and elder abuse, affects millions of US residents each year. However, surveillance systems, programs, and policies to address violence often lack broad, cross-sector collaboration, and there is limited awareness of effective strategies to prevent violence.
OBJECTIVES
To describe the burden of interpersonal violence in the United States, explore challenges to violence prevention efforts and to identify prevention opportunities.
DATA SOURCES
We reviewed data from health and law enforcement surveillance systems including the National Vital Statistics System, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reports, the US Justice Department’s National Crime Victimization Survey, the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence, the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, and the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System—All Injury Program.
RESULTS
Homicide rates have decreased from a peak of 10.7 per 100 000 persons in 1980 to 5.1 per 100 000 in 2013. Aggravated assault rates have decreased from a peak of 442 per 100 000 in 1992 to 242 per 100 000 in 2012. Nevertheless, annually, there are more than 16 000 homicides and 1.6 million nonfatal assault injuries requiring treatment in emergency departments. More than 12 million adults experience intimate partner violence annually and more than 10 million children younger than 18 years experience some form of maltreatment from a caregiver, ranging from neglect to sexual abuse, but only a small percentage of these violent incidents are reported to law enforcement, health care clinicians, or child protective agencies. Moreover, exposure to violence increases vulnerability to a broad range of mental and physical health problems over the life course; for example, meta-analyses indicate that exposure to physical abuse in childhood is associated with a 54% increased odds of depressive disorder, a 78% increased odds of sexually transmitted illness or risky sexual behavior, and a 32% increased odds of obesity. Rates of violence vary by age, geographic location, sex, and race/ethnicity, and significant disparities exist. Homicide is the leading cause of death for non-Hispanic blacks from age 1 through 44 years, whereas it is the fifth most common cause of death among non-Hispanic whites in this age range. Additionally, efforts to understand, prevent, and respond to interpersonal violence have often neglected the degree to which many forms of violence are interconnected at the individual level, across relationships and communities, and even intergenerationally. The most effective violence prevention strategies include parent and family-focused programs, early childhood education, school-based programs, therapeutic or counseling interventions, and public policy. For example, a systematic review of early childhood home visitation programs found a 38.9% reduction in episodes of child maltreatment in intervention participants compared with control participants.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE
Progress has been made in reducing US rates of interpersonal violence even though a significant burden remains. Multiple strategies exist to improve violence prevention efforts, and health care providers are an important part of this solution.
doi:10.1001/jama.2015.8371
PMCID: PMC4692168  PMID: 26241599
23.  Intimate Partner Violence and Incident Depressive Symptoms and Suicide Attempts: A Systematic Review of Longitudinal Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(5):e1001439.
Karen Devries and colleagues conduct a systematic review of longitudinal studies to evaluate the direction of association between symptoms of depression and intimate partner violence.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Depression and suicide are responsible for a substantial burden of disease globally. Evidence suggests that intimate partner violence (IPV) experience is associated with increased risk of depression, but also that people with mental disorders are at increased risk of violence. We aimed to investigate the extent to which IPV experience is associated with incident depression and suicide attempts, and vice versa, in both women and men.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies published before February 1, 2013. More than 22,000 records from 20 databases were searched for studies examining physical and/or sexual intimate partner or dating violence and symptoms of depression, diagnosed major depressive disorder, dysthymia, mild depression, or suicide attempts. Random effects meta-analyses were used to generate pooled odds ratios (ORs). Sixteen studies with 36,163 participants met our inclusion criteria. All studies included female participants; four studies also included male participants. Few controlled for key potential confounders other than demographics. All but one depression study measured only depressive symptoms. For women, there was clear evidence of an association between IPV and incident depressive symptoms, with 12 of 13 studies showing a positive direction of association and 11 reaching statistical significance; pooled OR from six studies = 1.97 (95% CI 1.56–2.48, I2 = 50.4%, pheterogeneity = 0.073). There was also evidence of an association in the reverse direction between depressive symptoms and incident IPV (pooled OR from four studies = 1.93, 95% CI 1.51–2.48, I2 = 0%, p = 0.481). IPV was also associated with incident suicide attempts. For men, evidence suggested that IPV was associated with incident depressive symptoms, but there was no clear evidence of an association between IPV and suicide attempts or depression and incident IPV.
Conclusions
In women, IPV was associated with incident depressive symptoms, and depressive symptoms with incident IPV. IPV was associated with incident suicide attempts. In men, few studies were conducted, but evidence suggested IPV was associated with incident depressive symptoms. There was no clear evidence of association with suicide attempts.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Depression and suicide are responsible for a substantial proportion of the global disease burden. Depression—an overwhelming feeling of sadness and hopelessness that can last for months or years—affects more than 350 million people worldwide. It is the eleventh leading cause of global disability-adjusted life-years (a measure of overall disease burden), and it affects one in six people at some time during their lives. Globally, about a million people commit suicide every year, usually because they have depression or some other mental illness. Notably, in cross-sectional studies (investigations that look at a population at a single time point), experience of intimate partner violence (IPV, also called domestic violence) is strongly and consistently associated with both depressive disorders and suicide. IPV, like depression and suicide, is extremely common—in multi-country studies, 15%–71% of women report being physically assaulted at some time during their lifetime. IPV is defined as physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse; men as well as women can be the victims of IPV.
Why Was This Study Done?
It may seem obvious to assume that IPV is causally related to subsequent depression and suicidal behavior. However, cross-sectional studies provide no information about causality, and it is possible that depression and/or suicide attempts cause subsequent IPV or that there are common risk factors for IPV, depression, and suicide. For example, individuals with depressive symptoms may be more accepting of partners with characteristics that predispose them to use violence, or early life exposure to violence may predispose individuals to both depression and choosing violent partners. Here, as part of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, the researchers investigate the extent to which experience of IPV is associated with subsequent depression and suicide attempts and vice versa in both men and women by undertaking a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies that have examined IPV, depression, and suicide attempts. A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic, meta-analysis combines the results of several studies, and longitudinal studies track people over time to investigate associations between specific characteristics and outcomes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 16 longitudinal studies involving a total of 36,163 participants that met their inclusion criteria. All the studies included women, but only four also included men. All the studies were undertaken in high- and middle-income countries. For women, 11 studies showed a statistically significant association (an association unlikely to have occurred by chance) between IPV and subsequent depressive symptoms. In a meta-analysis of six studies, experience of IPV nearly doubled the risk of women subsequently reporting depressive symptoms. In addition, there was evidence of an association in the reverse direction. In a meta-analysis of four studies, depressive symptoms nearly doubled the risk of women subsequently experiencing IPV. IPV was also associated with subsequent suicide attempts among women. For men, there was some evidence from two studies that IPV was associated with depressive symptoms but no evidence for an association between IPV and subsequent suicide attempt or between depressive symptoms and subsequent IPV.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that women who are exposed to IPV are at increased risk of subsequent depression and that women who are depressed are more likely to be at risk of IPV. They also provide evidence of an association between IPV and subsequent suicide attempt for women. The study provides little evidence for similar relationships among men, but additional studies are needed to confirm this finding. Moreover, the accuracy of these findings is likely to be affected by several limitations of the study. For example, few of the included studies controlled for other factors that might have affected both exposure to IPV and depressive symptoms, and none of the studies considered the effect of emotional violence on depressive symptoms and suicide attempts. Nevertheless, these findings have two important implications. First, they suggest that preventing violence against women has the potential to reduce the global burden of disease related to depression and suicide. Second, they suggest that clinicians should pay attention to past experiences of violence and the risk of future violence when treating women who present with symptoms of depression.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001439.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Alexander Tsai
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information on all aspects of depression and of suicide and suicide prevention (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information about depression, including personal stories about depression, and information on suicide and its prevention; it has a webpage about domestic violence, which includes descriptions of personal experiences
The World Health Organization provides information on depression, on the global burden of suicide and on suicide prevention, and on intimate partner violence (some information in several languages)
MedlinePlus provides links to other resources about depression, suicide, and domestic violence (in English and Spanish)
The charity Healthtalkonline has personal stories about depression and about dealing with suicide
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001439
PMCID: PMC3646718  PMID: 23671407
24.  Relationships between sexual violence and chronic disease: a cross-sectional study 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:1286.
Background
Sexual assault is a traumatic event with potentially devastating lifelong effects on physical and mental health. Research has demonstrated that individuals who experience sexual assault during childhood are more likely to engage in risky behaviors later in life, such as smoking, alcohol and drug use, and disordered eating habits, which may increase the risk of developing a chronic disease. Despite the high prevalence and economic burden of sexual assault, few studies have investigated the associations between sexual violence and chronic health conditions in the US. The purpose of this study is to identify associations between sexual violence and health risk behaviors, chronic health conditions and mental health conditions utilizing population based data in Kansas.
Methods
Secondary analysis was done using data from the 2011 Kansas Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System sexual violence module (N = 4,886). Crude and adjusted prevalence rate ratios were computed to examine associations between sexual assault and health risk behaviors, chronic health conditions and mental health conditions, overall and after adjusting for social demographic characteristics. Additional logistic regression models were implemented to examine the association between sexual assault and health risk behaviors with further adjustment for history of anxiety or depression.
Results
There was a significantly higher prevalence of health risk behaviors (heavy drinking, binge drinking and current smoking), chronic health conditions (disability, and current asthma) and mental health conditions (depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation) among women who ever experienced sexual assault compared to women who did not, even after adjustment for potential confounders.
Conclusions
Study findings highlight the need for chronic disease prevention services for victims of sexual violence. There are important implications for policies and practices related to primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention, as well as collaborations between sexual violence, chronic disease, and health risk behavior programs.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-1286
PMCID: PMC4302144  PMID: 25516229
Sexual violence; Chronic disease; Health risks; Behaviors; Mental health; BRFSS
25.  Sexual orientation differences in the relationship between victimization and hazardous drinking among women in the National Alcohol Survey 
This study examined relationships between past experiences of victimization (sexual abuse and physical abuse in childhood, sexual abuse and physical abuse in adulthood, and lifetime victimization) and hazardous drinking among sexual minority women compared to exclusively heterosexual women. Data were from 11,169 women responding to sexual identity and sexual behavior questions from three National Alcohol Survey waves: 2000 (n=3,880), 2005 (n=3,464) and 2010 (n=3,825). A hazardous drinking index was constructed from five dichotomous variables (5+ drinking in the past year, drinking two or more drinks daily, drinking to intoxication in the past year, two or more lifetime dependence symptoms and two or more lifetime drinking-related negative consequences). Exclusively heterosexual women were compared to three groups of sexual minority women: lesbian, bisexual, and women who identified as heterosexual but reported same-sex partners. Each of the sexual minority groups reported significantly higher rates of lifetime victimization (59.1% lesbians, 76% bisexuals, and 64.4% heterosexual women reporting same-sex partners) than exclusively heterosexual women (42.3 %). Odds for hazardous drinking among sexual minority women were attenuated when measures of victimization were included in the regression models. Sexual minority groups had significantly higher odds of hazardous drinking, even after controlling for demographic and victimization variables: lesbian (ORadj=2.0, CI=1.1–3.9, p<.01; bisexual (ORadj=1.8, CI=1.0–3.3, p<.05; heterosexual with same-sex partners (ORadj=2.7; CI=1.7–4.3, p<.001). Higher rates of victimization likely contribute to, but do not fully explain, higher rates of hazardous drinking among sexual minority women.
doi:10.1037/a0031486
PMCID: PMC3823232  PMID: 23438246
Sexual minority women; hazardous drinking; alcohol consumption; childhood sexual abuse; childhood physical abuse; adult victimization

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