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1.  Violence against women: The perspective of academic women 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:490.
Background
Opinion surveys about potential causes of violence against women (VAW) are uncommon. This study explores academic women's opinions about VAW and the ways of reducing violence.
Methods
Quantitative and qualitative methods were used in this descriptive study. One hundred-and-fifteen academicians participated in the study from two universities. A questionnaire was used regarding the definition and the causes of VAW, the risk groups and opinions about the solutions. Additionally, two authors interviewed 8 academicians from universities other than that of the interviewing author.
Results
Academicians discussed the problem from the perspective of "gender-based violence" rather than "family violence". The majority of the participants stated that nonworking women of low socioeconomic status are most at risk for VAW. They indicated that psychological violence is more prevalent against educated women, whilst physical violence is more likely to occur against uneducated and nonworking women. Perpetrator related factors were the most frequently stated causes of VAW. Thirty-five percent of the academicians defined themselves as at risk of some act of VAW. Recommendations for actions against violence were empowerment of women, increasing the educational levels in the society, and legal measures.
Conclusions
Academic women introduced an ecological approach for the explanation of VAW by stressing the importance of taking into account the global context of the occurrence of VAW. Similar studies with various community members -including men- will help to define targeted interventions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-490
PMCID: PMC2931473  PMID: 20716338
2.  ‘Expanding your mind’: the process of constructing gender-equitable masculinities in young Nicaraguan men participating in reproductive health or gender training programs 
Global Health Action  2012;5:10.3402/gha.v5i0.17262.
Background
Traditional forms of masculinity strongly influence men's and women's wellbeing.
Objective
This study has two aims: (i) to explore notions of various forms of masculinities in young Nicaraguan men participating in programs addressing sexual health, reproductive health, and/or gender equality and (ii) to find out how these young men perceive their involvement in actions aimed at reducing violence against women (VAW).
Design
A qualitative grounded theory study. Data were collected through six focus groups and two in-depth interviews with altogether 62 young men.
Results
Our analysis showed that the informants experienced a process of change, labeled ‘Expanding your mind’, in which we identified four interrelated subcategories: The apprentice, The responsible/respectful man, The proactive peer educator, and ‘The feminist man’. The process showed how an increased awareness of gender inequities facilitated the emergence of values (respect and responsibility) and behavior (thoughtful action) that contributed to increase the informant's critical thinking and agency at individual, social, and political levels. The process was influenced by individual and external factors.
Conclusions
Multiple progressive masculinities can emerge from programs challenging patriarchy in this Latin American setting. The masculinities identified in this study show a range of attitudes and behaviors; however, all lean toward more equitable gender relations. The results suggest that learning about sexual and reproductive health does not directly imply developing more gender-equitable attitudes and behaviors or a greater willingness to prevent VAW. It is paramount that interventions to challenge machismo in this setting continue and are expanded to reach more young men.
doi:10.3402/gha.v5i0.17262
PMCID: PMC3412571  PMID: 22870066
gender; grounded theory; masculinity; Nicaragua; young men; change
3.  Macro-level gender equality and alcohol consumption: A multi-level analysis across U.S. States 
Higher levels of women’s alcohol consumption have long been attributed to increases in gender equality. However, only limited research examines the relationship between gender equality and alcohol consumption. This study examined associations between five measures of state-level gender equality and five alcohol consumption measures in the United States. Survey data regarding men’s and women’s alcohol consumption from the 2005 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System were linked to state-level indicators of gender equality. Gender equality indicators included state-level women’s socioeconomic status, gender equality in socioeconomic status, reproductive rights, policies relating to violence against women, and women’s political participation. Alcohol consumption measures included past 30-day drinker status, drinking frequency, binge drinking, volume, and risky drinking. Other than drinker status, consumption is measured for drinkers only. Multi-level linear and logistic regression models adjusted for individual demographics as well as state-level income inequality, median income, and % Evangelical Protestant/Mormon. All gender equality indicators were positively associated with both women’s and men’s drinker status in models adjusting only for individual-level covariates; associations were not significant in models adjusting for other state-level characteristics. All other associations between gender equality and alcohol consumption were either negative or non-significant for both women and men in models adjusting for other state-level factors. Findings do not support the hypothesis that higher levels of gender equality are associated with higher levels of alcohol consumption by women or by men. In fact, most significant findings suggest that higher levels of equality are associated with less alcohol consumption overall.
doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.02.017
PMCID: PMC4086912  PMID: 22521679
Alcohol consumption; Gender equality; Woman’s role; United States
4.  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
5.  HIV, Gender, Race, Sexual Orientation, and Sex Work: A Qualitative Study of Intersectional Stigma Experienced by HIV-Positive Women in Ontario, Canada 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(11):e1001124.
Mona Loutfy and colleagues used focus groups to examine experiences of stigma and coping strategies among HIV-positive women in Ontario, Canada.
Background
HIV infection rates are increasing among marginalized women in Ontario, Canada. HIV-related stigma, a principal factor contributing to the global HIV epidemic, interacts with structural inequities such as racism, sexism, and homophobia. The study objective was to explore experiences of stigma and coping strategies among HIV-positive women in Ontario, Canada.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a community-based qualitative investigation using focus groups to understand experiences of stigma and discrimination and coping methods among HIV-positive women from marginalized communities. We conducted 15 focus groups with HIV-positive women in five cities across Ontario, Canada. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis to enhance understanding of the lived experiences of diverse HIV-positive women. Focus group participants (n = 104; mean age = 38 years; 69% ethnic minority; 23% lesbian/bisexual; 22% transgender) described stigma/discrimination and coping across micro (intra/interpersonal), meso (social/community), and macro (organizational/political) realms. Participants across focus groups attributed experiences of stigma and discrimination to: HIV-related stigma, sexism and gender discrimination, racism, homophobia and transphobia, and involvement in sex work. Coping strategies included resilience (micro), social networks and support groups (meso), and challenging stigma (macro).
Conclusions
HIV-positive women described interdependent and mutually constitutive relationships between marginalized social identities and inequities such as HIV-related stigma, sexism, racism, and homo/transphobia. These overlapping, multilevel forms of stigma and discrimination are representative of an intersectional model of stigma and discrimination. The present findings also suggest that micro, meso, and macro level factors simultaneously present barriers to health and well being—as well as opportunities for coping—in HIV-positive women's lives. Understanding the deleterious effects of stigma and discrimination on HIV risk, mental health, and access to care among HIV-positive women can inform health care provision, stigma reduction interventions, and public health policy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
HIV-related stigma and discrimination—prejudice, negative attitudes, abuse, and maltreatment directed at people living with HIV—is a major factor contributing to the global HIV epidemic. HIV-related stigma, which devalues and stereotypes people living with HIV, increases vulnerability to HIV infection by reducing access to HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and support. At the personal (micro) level, HIV-related stigma can make it hard for people to take tests to determine their HIV status or to tell other people that they are HIV positive. At the social/community (meso) level, it can mean that HIV-positive people are ostracized from their communities. At the organizational/political (macro) level, it can mean that health-care workers treat HIV-positive people differently and that governments are deterred from taking fast, effective action against the HIV epidemic. In addition, HIV-related stigma is negatively associated with well-being among people living with HIV. Thus, among HIV-positive people, those who have experienced HIV-related stigma have higher levels of mental and physical illness.
Why Was This Study Done?
Racism (oppression and inequity founded on ethno-racial differences), sexism and gender discrimination (oppression and inequity based on gender bias in attitudes), and homophobia and transphobia (discrimination, fear, hostility, and violence towards nonheterosexual and transgender people, respectively) can also affect access to HIV services. However, little is known about how these different forms of stigma and discrimination interact (intersect). A better understanding of the effect of intersecting stigmas on people living with HIV could help in the development of stigma reduction interventions and HIV prevention, treatment and care programs, and could help to control global HIV infection rates. In this qualitative study (an analysis of people's attitudes and experiences rather than numerical data), the researchers investigate the intersection of HIV-related stigma, racism, sexism and gender discrimination, homophobia and transphobia among marginalized HIV-positive women in Ontario, Canada. As elsewhere in the world, HIV infection rates are increasing among women in Canada. Nearly 25% of people living with HIV in Canada are women and about a quarter of all new infections are in women. Moreover, there is a disproportionately high infection rate among marginalized women in Canada such as sex workers and lesbian, bisexual, and queer women.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers held 15 focus groups with 104 marginalized HIV-positive women who were recruited by word-of-mouth and through flyers circulated in community agencies serving women of diverse ethno-cultural origins. Each focus group explored topics that included challenges in daily life, medical issues and needs, and issues that were silenced within the participants' communities. The researchers analyzed the data from these focus groups using thematic analysis, an approach that identifies, analyzes, and reports themes in qualitative data. They found that women living with HIV in Ontario experienced multiple types of stigma at different levels. So, for example, women experienced HIV-related stigma at the micro (“If you're HIV-positive, you feel shameful”), meso (“The thing I hate most for people that test positive for HIV is that society ostracizes them”), and macro (“A lot of women are not getting employed because they have to disclose their status”) levels. The women also attributed their experiences of stigma and discrimination to sexism and gender discrimination, racism, homophobia and transphobia, and involvement in sex work at all three levels and described coping strategies at the micro (resilience; “I always live with hope”), meso (participation in social networks), and macro (challenging stigma) levels.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that marginalized HIV-positive women living in Ontario experience overlapping forms of stigma and discrimination and that these forms of stigma operate over micro, meso, and macro levels, as do the coping strategies adopted by the women. Together, these results support an intersectional model of stigma and discrimination that should help to inform discussions about the complexity of stigma and coping strategies. However, because only a small sample of nonrandomly selected women was involved in this study, these findings need to be confirmed in other groups of HIV-positive women. If confirmed, the complex system of interplay of different forms of stigma revealed here should help to inform health-care provision, stigma reduction interventions, and public-health policy, and could, ultimately, help to bring the global HIV epidemic under control.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001124.
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap basic information about HIV/AIDS, and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment; its publication HIV and stigma deals with HIV-related stigma in the UK
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on women, HIV, and AIDS, on HIV and AIDS stigma and discrimination, and on HIV/AIDS statistics for Canada (in English and Spanish)
The People Living with Stigma Index to address stigma relating to HIV and advocate on key barriers and issues perpetuating stigma; it has recently published Piecing it together for women and girls, the gender dimensions of HIV-related stigma; its website will soon include a selection of individual stories about HIV-related stigma
Patient stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through Avert and through the charity website Healthtalkonline
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001124
PMCID: PMC3222645  PMID: 22131907
6.  Gender Differences in Public and Private Drinking Contexts: A Multi-Level GENACIS Analysis 
This multi-national study hypothesized that higher levels of country-level gender equality would predict smaller differences in the frequency of women’s compared to men’s drinking in public (like bars and restaurants) settings and possibly private (home or party) settings. GENACIS project survey data with drinking contexts included 22 countries in Europe (8); the Americas (7); Asia (3); Australasia (2), and Africa (2), analyzed using hierarchical linear models (individuals nested within country). Age, gender and marital status were individual predictors; country-level gender equality as well as equality in economic participation, education, and political participation, and reproductive autonomy and context of violence against women measures were country-level variables. In separate models, more reproductive autonomy, economic participation, and educational attainment and less violence against women predicted smaller differences in drinking in public settings. Once controlling for country-level economic status, only equality in economic participation predicted the size of the gender difference. Most country-level variables did not explain the gender difference in frequency of drinking in private settings. Where gender equality predicted this difference, the direction of the findings was opposite from the direction in public settings, with more equality predicting a larger gender difference, although this relationship was no longer significant after controlling for country-level economic status. Findings suggest that country-level gender equality may influence gender differences in drinking. However, the effects of gender equality on drinking may depend on the specific alcohol measure, in this case drinking context, as well as on the aspect of gender equality considered. Similar studies that use only global measures of gender equality may miss key relationships. We consider potential implications for alcohol related consequences, policy and public health.
doi:10.3390/ijerph7052136
PMCID: PMC2898041  PMID: 20623016
context of drinking; on- and off-premises alcohol use; gender equity; economic development; culture; hierarchical linear models (HLM); cross-national study; GENACIS
7.  Alcohol-serving venues in South Africa as sites of risk and potential protection for violence against women 
Substance use & misuse  2012;47(12):1271-1280.
This qualitative study explores alcohol-serving venues as sites of risk or protection from violence against women (VAW) in one South African community. In 2010, we conducted in-depth interviews with 31 female patrons, 13 male patrons and 11 venue staff, and conducted structured observations in six alcohol venues. VAW was a common experience and venues contributed to risk through aggression, negative attitudes towards women, risks leaving the venues, and owners tolerating VAW. Concurrently, venues offered potential to avoid VAW through perceived safety and owner protection. Results highlight the influence of the venue environment and importance of addressing the setting of alcohol consumption.
doi:10.3109/10826084.2012.695419
PMCID: PMC3523302  PMID: 22738267
South Africa; Qualitative; Violence against women; Gender-based violence; Alcohol; Venues; Gender
8.  Confirmatory Factor Analysis of the WHO Violence Against Women Instrument in Pregnant Women: Results from the BRISA Prenatal Cohort 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e115382.
Background
Screening for violence during pregnancy is one of the strategies for the prevention of abuse against women. Since violence is difficult to measure, it is necessary to validate questionnaires that can provide a good measure of the phenomenon. The present study analyzed the psychometric properties of the World Health Organization Violence Against Women (WHO VAW) instrument for the measurement of violence against pregnant women.
Methods
Data from the Brazilian Ribeirão Preto and São Luís birth cohort studies (BRISA) were used. The sample consisted of 1,446 pregnant women from São Luís and 1,378 from Ribeirão Preto, interviewed in 2010 and 2011. Thirteen variables were selected from a self-applied questionnaire. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to investigate whether violence is a uni-or-multidimensional construct consisting of psychological, physical and sexual dimensions. The mean-and-variance-adjusted weighted least squares estimator was used. Models were fitted separately for each city and a third model combining data from the two settings was also tested. Models suggested from modification indices were tested to determine whether changes in the WHO VAW model would produce a better fit.
Results
The unidimensional model did not show good fit (Root mean square error of approximation [RMSEA]  = 0.060, p<0.001 for the combined model). The multidimensional WHO VAW model showed good fit (RMSEA = 0.036, p = 0.999 for the combined model) and standardized factor loadings higher than 0.70, except for the sexual dimension for SL (0.65). The models suggested by the modification indices with cross loadings measuring simultaneously physical and psychological violence showed a significantly better fit compared to the original WHO model (p<0.001 for the difference between the model chi-squares).
Conclusions
Violence is a multidimensional second-order construct consisting of psychological, physical and sexual dimensions. The WHO VAW model and the modified models are suitable for measuring violence against pregnant women.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0115382
PMCID: PMC4274028  PMID: 25531654
9.  Talk, trust and time: a longitudinal study evaluating knowledge translation and exchange processes for research on violence against women 
Background
Violence against women (VAW) is a major public health problem. Translation of VAW research to policy and practice is an area that remains understudied, but provides the opportunity to examine knowledge translation and exchange (KTE) processes in a complex, multi-stakeholder context. In a series of studies including two randomized trials, the McMaster University VAW Research Program studied one key research gap: evidence about the effectiveness of screening women for exposure to intimate partner violence. This project developed and evaluated KTE strategies to share research findings with policymakers, health and community service providers, and women's advocates.
Methods
A longitudinal cross-sectional design, applying concurrent mixed data collection methods (surveys, interviews, and focus groups), was used to evaluate the utility of specific KTE strategies, including a series of workshops and a day-long Family Violence Knowledge Exchange Forum, on research sharing, uptake, and use.
Results
Participants valued the opportunity to meet with researchers, provide feedback on key messages, and make personal connections with other stakeholders. A number of factors specific to the knowledge itself, stakeholders' contexts, and the nature of the knowledge gap being addressed influenced the uptake, sharing, and use of the research. The types of knowledge use changed across time, and were specifically related to both the types of decisions being made, and to stage of decision making; most reported use was conceptual or symbolic, with few examples of instrumental use. Participants did report actively sharing the research findings with their own networks. Further examination of these second-order knowledge-sharing processes is required, including development of appropriate methods and measures for its assessment. Some participants reported that they would not use the research evidence in their decision making when it contradicted professional experiences, while others used it to support apparently contradictory positions. The online wiki-based 'community of interest' requested by participants was not used.
Conclusions
Mobilizing knowledge in the area of VAW practice and policy is complex and resource-intensive, and must acknowledge and respect the values of identified knowledge users, while balancing the objectivity of the research and researchers. This paper provides important lessons learned about these processes, including attending to the potential unintended consequences of knowledge sharing.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-6-102
PMCID: PMC3178499  PMID: 21896170
10.  Living Alone and Alcohol-Related Mortality: A Population-Based Cohort Study from Finland 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(9):e1001094.
Kimmo Herttua and colleagues showed that living alone is associated with a substantially increased risk of alcohol-related mortality, irrespective of gender, socioeconomic status, or cause of death, and that this effect was exacerbated after a price reduction in alcohol in 2004.
Background
Social isolation and living alone are increasingly common in industrialised countries. However, few studies have investigated the potential public health implications of this trend. We estimated the relative risk of death from alcohol-related causes among individuals living alone and determined whether this risk changed after a large reduction in alcohol prices.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a population-based natural experimental study of a change in the price of alcohol that occurred because of new laws enacted in Finland in January and March of 2004, utilising national registers. The data are based on an 11% sample of the Finnish population aged 15–79 y supplemented with an oversample of deaths. The oversample covered 80% of all deaths during the periods January 1, 2000–December 31, 2003 (the four years immediately before the price reduction of alcohol), and January 1, 2004–December 31, 2007 (the four years immediately after the price reduction). Alcohol-related mortality was defined using both underlying and contributory causes of death. During the 8-y follow-up about 18,200 persons died due to alcohol-related causes. Among married or cohabiting people the increase in alcohol-related mortality was small or non-existing between the periods 2000–2003 and 2004–2007, whereas for those living alone, this increase was substantial, especially in men and women aged 50–69 y. For liver disease in men, the most common fatal alcohol-related disease, the age-adjusted risk ratio associated with living alone was 3.7 (95% confidence interval 3.3, 4.1) before and 4.9 (95% CI 4.4, 5.4) after the price reduction (p<0.001 for difference in risk ratios). In women, the corresponding risk ratios were 1.7 (95% CI 1.4, 2.1) and 2.4 (95% CI 2.0, 2.9), respectively (p ≤ 0.01). Living alone was also associated with other mortality from alcohol-related diseases (range of risk ratios 2.3 to 8.0) as well as deaths from accidents and violence with alcohol as a contributing cause (risk ratios between 2.1 and 4.7), both before and after the price reduction.
Conclusions
Living alone is associated with a substantially increased risk of alcohol-related mortality, irrespective of gender, socioeconomic status, or the specific cause of death. The greater availability of alcohol in Finland after legislation-instituted price reductions in the first three months of 2004 increased in particular the relative excess in fatal liver disease among individuals living alone.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Throughout most of human history, people have lived in tight-knit communities where there was likely to be someone to turn to for help, advice, or company. But the modern way of life in industrialized countries is greatly reducing the quantity and quality of social relationships. Instead of living in extended families, many people now live miles away from their relatives, often living and working alone. Others commute long distances to work, which leaves little time for socializing with friends or relatives. And many delay or forgo getting married and having children. Consequently, loneliness and social isolation are getting more common. In the UK, according to a recent survey by the Mental Health Foundation, 10% of people often feel lonely, a third have a close friend or relative who they think is very lonely, and half think people are getting lonelier in general. Similarly, over the past two decades, there has been a three-fold increase in the number of Americans who say they have no close confidants.
Why Was This Study Done?
Some experts think that loneliness is bad for human health. They point to studies that show that people with fewer social relationships die earlier on average than people with more social relationships. But does loneliness increase the risk of dying from specific causes? It is important to investigate the relationship between loneliness and cause-specific mortality (death) because, if for example, loneliness increases the risk of dying from alcohol-related causes (heavy drinking causes liver and heart damage, increases the risk of some cancers, contributes to depression, and increases the risk of death by violence or accident), doctors could advise their patients who live alone about safe drinking. But, although loneliness is recognized as both a contributor to and a consequence of alcohol abuse, there have been no large, population-based studies on the association between living alone and alcohol-related mortality. In this population-based study, the researchers estimate the association between living alone (an indicator of a lack of social relationships) and death from alcohol-related causes in Finland for four years before and four years after an alcohol price reduction in 2004 that increased alcohol consumption.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers obtained information on about 80% of all people who died in Finland between 2000 and 2007 from Statistics Finland, which collects official Finnish statistics. During this period, about 18,200 people (two-thirds of whom lived alone) died from underlying alcohol-related causes (for example, liver disease and alcoholic poisoning) or contributory alcohol-related causes (for example, accidents, violence, and cardiovascular disease, with alcohol as a contributing cause). Among married and cohabiting people, the rate of alcohol-related mortality was similar in 2000–2003 and 2004–2007 but for people living alone (particularly those aged 50–69 years) the 2004 alcohol price reduction substantially increased the alcohol-related mortality rate. For liver disease in men, the risk ratio associated with living alone was 3.7 before and 4.9 after the price reduction. That is, between 2000 and 2003, men living alone were 3.7 times more likely to die of liver disease than married or cohabiting men; between 2004 and 2007, they were 4.9 times more likely to die of liver disease. In women, the corresponding risk ratios for liver disease were 1.7 and 2.4, respectively. Living alone was also associated with an increased risk of dying from other alcohol-related diseases and accidents and violence both before and after the price reduction.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, in Finland, living alone is associated with an increased risk of alcohol-related mortality. Because of the study design, it is impossible to say whether living alone is a cause or a consequence of alcohol abuse, but the greater increase in alcohol-related deaths (particularly fatal liver disease) among people living alone compared to married and cohabiting people after the alcohol price reduction suggests that people living alone are more vulnerable to the adverse effects of increased alcohol availability. Further research in other countries is now needed to identify whether living alone is a cause or effect of alcohol abuse and to extend these findings to cultures where the pattern of alcohol consumption is different. However, the findings of this natural experiment suggest that living alone should be regarded as a potential risk marker for death from alcohol-related causes.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001094.
The Mental Health America Live Your Life Well webpage includes information about how social relationships improve mental and physical health
The Mental Health Foundation (a UK charity) presents the report The Lonely Society?
The US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has information about alcohol and its effects on health
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a website on alcohol and public health that includes information on the health risks of excessive drinking
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information about drinking and alcohol, including information on the risks of drinking too much, and personal stories about alcohol problems, including stories from people living alone (My drinks diary shock and I used to drink all day)
MedlinePlus provides links to many other resources on alcohol
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001094
PMCID: PMC3176753  PMID: 21949642
11.  Domestic Violence and Perinatal Mental Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(5):e1001452.
Louise Howard and colleagues conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis to estimate the prevalence and odds of experience of domestic violence experience among women with antenatal and postnatal mental health disorders.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Domestic violence in the perinatal period is associated with adverse obstetric outcomes, but evidence is limited on its association with perinatal mental disorders. We aimed to estimate the prevalence and odds of having experienced domestic violence among women with antenatal and postnatal mental disorders (depression and anxiety disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD], eating disorders, and psychoses).
Methods and Findings
We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis (PROSPERO reference CRD42012002048). Data sources included searches of electronic databases (to 15 February 2013), hand searches, citation tracking, update of a review on victimisation and mental disorder, and expert recommendations. Included studies were peer-reviewed experimental or observational studies that reported on women aged 16 y or older, that assessed the prevalence and/or odds of having experienced domestic violence, and that assessed symptoms of perinatal mental disorder using a validated instrument. Two reviewers screened 1,125 full-text papers, extracted data, and independently appraised study quality. Odds ratios were pooled using meta-analysis.
Sixty-seven papers were included. Pooled estimates from longitudinal studies suggest a 3-fold increase in the odds of high levels of depressive symptoms in the postnatal period after having experienced partner violence during pregnancy (odds ratio 3.1, 95% CI 2.7–3.6). Increased odds of having experienced domestic violence among women with high levels of depressive, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms in the antenatal and postnatal periods were consistently reported in cross-sectional studies. No studies were identified on eating disorders or puerperal psychosis. Analyses were limited because of study heterogeneity and lack of data on baseline symptoms, preventing clear findings on causal directionality.
Conclusions
High levels of symptoms of perinatal depression, anxiety, and PTSD are significantly associated with having experienced domestic violence. High-quality evidence is now needed on how maternity and mental health services should address domestic violence and improve health outcomes for women and their infants in the perinatal period.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Domestic violence—physical, sexual, or emotional abuse by an intimate partner or family member—is a major public health problem and although more common in women, can also affect men. Due to the nature of the problem, it is difficult to collect accurate figures on the scale of domestic violence, but a study by the World Health Organization in ten countries found that 15%–71% of women aged 15–49 years reported physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lives. Women experiencing domestic violence have significant short- and long-term health problems, particularly regarding their mental health: experience of domestic violence can lead to a range of mental health disorders such as depression, psychosis, eating disorders, and even suicide attempts.
Why Was This Study Done?
As perinatal mental health disorders are among the commonest health problems in pregnancy and the postpartum period, and given the rate of domestic violence during pregnancy (previous studies have suggested a domestic violence prevalence of 4%–8% during pregnancy and the postnatal period), it is plausible that there may be a link between perinatal mental health disorders and having experienced domestic violence. Indeed, previous reviews have suggested the existence of such an association but were limited by the small number of included studies and focused on depression only, rather than the full range of antenatal and postnatal mental health disorders. So in this study the researchers systematically reviewed published studies to provide more robust estimates of the prevalence of having experienced domestic violence among women with antenatal and postnatal mental health disorders; the researchers also used a meta-analysis to estimate the odds (chance) of having experienced domestic violence among women with antenatal and postnatal mental health disorders.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched multiple databases and hand searched three relevant journals using key search terms to identify all types of relevant studies. Using specific criteria, the researchers retrieved and assessed over 1,000 full papers, of which 67 met the criteria for their systematic review. The researchers assessed the quality of each selected study and included only those studies that used validated diagnostic instruments and screening tools to assess mental health disorders in their calculations of the pooled (combined) odds ratio (OR) through meta-analysis.
Using these methods, in cross-sectional studies (studies conducted at one point in time), the researchers found that women with probable depression in the antenatal period reported a high prevalence and increased odds of having experienced partner violence during their lifetime (OR = 3), during the past year (OR = 2.8), and during pregnancy (OR = 5). The results were similar for the postnatal period. The evidence was less robust for anxiety disorders: among women with probable anxiety in the antenatal period, the researchers found an OR of 2.9 of having experienced lifetime partner violence. The odds were less in the postnatal period (OR = 1.4) In their analysis of longitudinal studies (follow-up studies over a period of time), the researchers found an increased odds of probable postnatal depression both among women who reported having ever experienced partner violence in their lifetime (OR = 2.9) and among women who reported having experienced partner violence during pregnancy (OR = 3.1). The researchers also found a combined prevalence estimate of 12.7% for probable depression during the postnatal period following experiences of partner violence during pregnancy. Because of limited data, the researchers could not calculate an OR of the association between probable antenatal depression and later experiences of partner violence.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that women with high levels of symptoms of perinatal mental health disorders—antenatal and postnatal anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder—have a high prevalence and increased odds of having experienced domestic violence both over their lifetime and during pregnancy. However, these findings cannot prove causality, they fail to show a two-way association (that is, perinatal mental health disorders leading to subsequent domestic violence), and no information on other perinatal mental disorders, such as eating disorders and puerperal psychosis, was available. The variation of the quality of the included studies also limits the results, highlighting the need for high-quality data to suggest how maternity and mental health services could address domestic violence and improve health outcomes for women and their infants in the future. Nevertheless, this study emphasizes the importance of identifying and responding to possible domestic violence among women attending antenatal and mental health services.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001452.
The World Health Organization provides information and statistics about violence against women and also about mental health disorders during pregnancy
The UK Royal College of Psychiatrists has information for professionals and patients about mental health disorders during pregnancy
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001452
PMCID: PMC3665851  PMID: 23723741
12.  A Population-Based Study on Alcohol and High-Risk Sexual Behaviors in Botswana 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e392.
Background
In Botswana, an estimated 24% of adults ages 15–49 years are infected with HIV. While alcohol use is strongly associated with HIV infection in Africa, few population-based studies have characterized the association of alcohol use with specific high-risk sexual behaviors.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cross-sectional, population-based study of 1,268 adults from five districts in Botswana using a stratified two-stage probability sample design. Multivariate logistic regression was used to assess correlates of heavy alcohol consumption (>14 drinks/week for women, and >21 drinks/week for men) as a dependent variable. We also assessed gender-specific associations between alcohol use as a primary independent variable (categorized as none, moderate, problem and heavy drinking) and several risky sex outcomes including: (a) having unprotected sex with a nonmonogamous partner; (b) having multiple sexual partners; and (c) paying for or selling sex in exchange for money or other resources. Criteria for heavy drinking were met by 31% of men and 17% of women. Adjusted correlates of heavy alcohol use included male gender, intergenerational relationships (age gap ≥10 y), higher education, and living with a sexual partner. Among men, heavy alcohol use was associated with higher odds of all risky sex outcomes examined, including unprotected sex (AOR = 3.48; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.65 to 7.32), multiple partners (AOR = 3.08; 95% CI, 1.95 to 4.87), and paying for sex (AOR = 3.65; 95% CI, 2.58 to 12.37). Similarly, among women, heavy alcohol consumption was associated with higher odds of unprotected sex (AOR = 3.28; 95% CI, 1.71 to 6.28), multiple partners (AOR = 3.05; 95% CI, 1.83 to 5.07), and selling sex (AOR = 8.50; 95% CI, 3.41 to 21.18). A dose-response relationship was seen between alcohol use and risky sexual behaviors, with moderate drinkers at lower risk than both problem and heavy drinkers.
Conclusions
Alcohol use is associated with multiple risks for HIV transmission among both men and women. The findings of this study underscore the need to integrate alcohol abuse and HIV prevention efforts in Botswana and elsewhere.
Alcohol use is associated with multiple risks for HIV transmission in men and women. The findings underscore the need to integrate alcohol abuse and HIV prevention efforts in Botswana and elsewhere.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), is most commonly spread through unprotected sex with an infected partner. HIV enters the body through the lining of the sex organs, rectum, or mouth, and destroys immune system cells, leaving the infected person susceptible to other viruses and bacteria. Although HIV education and prevention campaigns emphasize the importance of safe sex in reducing HIV transmission, people continue to become infected by having unprotected sex (that is, not using a condom) with either a nonmonogamous partner or multiple sexual partners, or in situations where they are paying for or selling sex. Research in different populations suggested that heavy alcohol use is associated with risky sexual behaviors. This is because alcohol relaxes the brain and body, reduces inhibitions, and diminishes risk perception. Drinking alcohol may further increase the risk of becoming infected with HIV through its suppressive effects on the immune system.
Why Was This Study Done?
Alcohol abuse is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa where most HIV infections occur and has been associated with risky sexual behaviors. It may therefore be one of the most common, potentially modifiable HIV risk factors in this region. However, research to date has concentrated on the association between alcohol consumption and risky sex in people attending HIV-treatment clinics or recruited at beer halls, and these populations may not be representative of the general population of sub-Saharan Africa. In this study, the researchers have investigated the potential role of alcohol in perpetuating the HIV epidemic by undertaking a population-based study on alcohol use and high-risk sexual behaviors in Botswana. Nearly a quarter of adults are infected with HIV here, and alcohol abuse is also common, particularly in the townships.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers recruited a random cross-section of people from the five districts of Botswana with the highest number of HIV-infected individuals and interviewed all 1,268 participants using a questionnaire. This included general questions about the participants (for example, their age and marital status) and questions about alcohol use, sexual behavior, and knowledge of HIV. Overall, 31% of the men in the study and 17% of the women were heavy drinkers—more than 21 drinks/week for men, 14 for women; a drink is half a pint of beer or a glass of wine. Heavy alcohol use was associated with being male, being in an intergenerational relationship (at least 10 years age difference between partners; intergenerational sex facilitates the continued spread of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa), having had more education, and living with a sexual partner. Among men, those who drank heavily were three to four times more likely to have unprotected sex or multiple partners or to pay for sex than nondrinkers. Among women, there was a similar association between heavy drinking and having unprotected sex or multiple partners, and heavy drinkers were eight times as likely to sell sex as nondrinkers. For both men and women, the more they drank, the more likely they were to have risky sex. The study did not address behavior among same-sex partnerships.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This study indicates that heavy alcohol consumption is strongly and consistently associated with sexual risk behaviors in both men and women in Botswana. Because of the study design, it does not prove that heavy alcohol use is the cause of such behaviors but provides strong circumstantial evidence that this is the case. It is possible that these results may not apply to neighboring African countries—Botswana is unique in being relatively wealthy and in its government being strongly committed to tackling HIV. Nevertheless, taken together with the results of other studies, this research strongly argues for the need to deal with alcohol abuse within HIV prevention programs in sub-Saharan Africa. Strategies to do this could include education campaigns that target both alcohol use and HIV in schools and in social venues, including beer halls. But, stress the researchers, any strategy that is used must consider the cultural and social significance of alcohol use (in Botswana, alcohol use is a symbol of masculinity and high socioeconomic status) and must simultaneously tackle not only the overlap between alcohol use and risky sexual behavior but also the overlap between alcohol and other risk behaviors such as intergenerational sex.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030392.
US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases factsheet on HIV infection and AIDS
US Department of Health and Human Services information on AIDS
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information on HIV/AIDS
US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism patient information on alcohol and HIV/AIDS]
Aidsmap, information on HIV and AIDS provided by the charity NAM,which includes some information on HIV infections and alcohol
AVERT information on HIV and AIDS in Botswana
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030392
PMCID: PMC1592342  PMID: 17032060
13.  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
14.  Patterns of Violence Against Women: A Latent Class Analysis 
This study examined patterns of nine types of violence against women (VAW) and associated mental health problems. The following self-reported, lifetime violence victimization was examined among 1424 employed women: (1) childhood physical abuse, (2) childhood sexual abuse, (3) physical abuse between parents/guardians during childhood, (4) psychological intimate partner violence (IPV), (5) physical IPV, (6) sexual IPV, (7) adult physical or sexual assault by a non-intimate partner, (8) physical workplace violence, and (9) psychological workplace violence. Latent class analysis was used to identify homogenous patterns, called “classes,” of women's “yes/no” responses to experiencing these types of violence. The best model consisted of 4-classes characterized by the following probabilities: low violence (class 1: 63.1%), high psychological and physical IPV (class 2: 15.6%), high physical and psychological workplace violence (class 3: 12.4%), and moderate to high childhood abuse (class 4: 9.0%). When compared to class 1 (low violence), membership in classes 2 (IPV) and 4 (childhood abuse) was associated with screening positive for depression in the past week at baseline after controlling for the influence of demographic characteristics on class membership. Also, when compared to class 1 (low all), membership in class 2 (IPV) was associated with greater odds of screening positive for posttraumatic stress disorder in the past month at the six month follow-up assessment. Findings document distinct patterns of VAW and associated proximal and distal mental health outcomes. Implications for interventions aimed to improve employed women's health are discussed.
doi:10.1037/a0023314
PMCID: PMC3362828  PMID: 22662284
childhood abuse; intimate partner violence; workplace violence; posttraumatic stress; depression
15.  Community perceptions of intimate partner violence - a qualitative study from urban Tanzania 
BMC Women's Health  2011;11:13.
Background
Intimate partner violence against women is a prevailing public health problem in Tanzania, where four of ten women have a lifetime exposure to physical or sexual violence by their male partners. To be able to suggest relevant and feasible community and health care based interventions, we explored community members' understanding and their responses to intimate partner violence.
Methods
A qualitative study using focus group discussions with 75 men and women was conducted in a community setting of urban Tanzania. We analysed data using a grounded theory approach and relate our findings to the ecological framework of intimate partner violence.
Results
The analysis resulted in one core category, "Moving from frustration to questioning traditional gender norms", that denoted a community in transition where the effects of intimate partner violence had started to fuel a wish for change. At the societal level, the category "Justified as part of male prestige" illustrates how masculinity prevails to justify violence. At the community level, the category "Viewed as discreditable and unfair" indicates community recognition of intimate partner violence as a human rights concern. At the relationship level, the category "Results in emotional entrapment" shows the shame and self-blame that is often the result of a violent relationship. At the individual level, the risk factors for intimate partner violence were primarily associated with male characteristics; the category "Fed up with passivity" emerged as an indication that community members also acknowledge their own responsibility for change in actions.
Conclusions
Prevailing gender norms in Tanzania accept women's subordination and justify male violence towards women. At the individual level, an increasing openness makes it possible for women to report, ask for help, and become proactive in suggesting preventive measures. At the community level, there is an increased willingness to intervene but further consciousness-raising of the human rights perspective of violence, as well as actively engaging men. At the macro level, preventive efforts must be prioritized through re-enforcement of legal rights, and provision of adequate medical and social welfare services for both survivors and perpetrators.
doi:10.1186/1472-6874-11-13
PMCID: PMC3094305  PMID: 21501506
16.  Alcohol Consumption at Midlife and Successful Ageing in Women: A Prospective Cohort Analysis in the Nurses' Health Study 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(9):e1001090.
Using the Nurses' Health Study, Qi Sun and colleagues examine whether moderate alcohol intake is associated with overall health and well-being among women who survive to older age.
Background
Observational studies have documented inverse associations between moderate alcohol consumption and risk of premature death. It is largely unknown whether moderate alcohol intake is also associated with overall health and well-being among populations who have survived to older age. In this study, we prospectively examined alcohol use assessed at midlife in relation to successful ageing in a cohort of US women.
Methods and Findings
Alcohol consumption at midlife was assessed using a validated food frequency questionnaire. Subsequently, successful ageing was defined in 13,894 Nurses' Health Study participants who survived to age 70 or older, and whose health status was continuously updated. “Successful ageing” was considered as being free of 11 major chronic diseases and having no major cognitive impairment, physical impairment, or mental health limitations. Analyses were restricted to the 98.1% of participants who were not heavier drinkers (>45 g/d) at midlife. Of all eligible study participants, 1,491 (10.7%) achieved successful ageing. After multivariable adjustment of potential confounders, light-to-moderate alcohol consumption at midlife was associated with modestly increased odds of successful ageing. The odds ratios (95% confidence interval) were 1.0 (referent) for nondrinkers, 1.11 (0.96–1.29) for ≤5.0 g/d, 1.19 (1.01–1.40) for 5.1–15.0 g/d, 1.28 (1.03–1.58) for 15.1–30.0 g/d, and 1.24 (0.87–1.76) for 30.1–45.0 g/d. Meanwhile, independent of total alcohol intake, participants who drank alcohol at regular patterns throughout the week, rather than on a single occasion, had somewhat better odds of successful ageing; for example, the odds ratios (95% confidence interval) were 1.29 (1.01–1.64) and 1.47 (1.14–1.90) for those drinking 3–4 days and 5–7 days per week in comparison with nondrinkers, respectively, whereas the odds ratio was 1.10 (0.94–1.30) for those drinking only 1–2 days per week.
Conclusions
These data suggest that regular, moderate consumption of alcohol at midlife may be related to a modest increase in overall health status among women who survive to older ages.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
People have always drunk alcoholic beverages but throughout history there have been arguments about the risks and benefits of beer, wine, and spirits. It is clear that excessive alcohol use—heavy drinking (an average of more than two drinks per day for men or more than one drink per day for women; in the US, a “drink” is defined as 15 g of alcohol or, roughly speaking, a can of beer or a small glass of wine) or binge drinking (five or more drinks on a single occasion for men; 4 or more drinks at one time for women)—is harmful. It causes liver damage and increases the risk of developing some types of cancer. It contributes to depression and violence and interferes with relationships. And it is often implicated in fatal traffic accidents. However, in contrast to these and other harms associated with excessive alcohol use, moderate alcohol consumption seems to reduce the risk of specific diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and cognitive decline (deterioration in learning, reasoning, and perception).
Why Was This Study Done?
Although people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol have a reduced risk of premature death compared to abstainers or heavy drinkers, it is not known whether moderate alcohol consumption is associated with overall health among ageing populations. In many countries, elderly people are an increasingly large part of the population, so it is important to know how moderate alcohol consumption affects their well-being. In this study, the researchers examine the effect of alcohol consumption at midlife on successful ageing among the participants of the Nurses' Health Study. The researchers study the effect of midlife alcohol consumption because the chronic conditions that affect elderly people develop slowly and it is likely that factors in earlier life determine health in later life. Successful ageing is defined as being free of major chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease, and having no major cognitive impairment, physical impairment, or mental health problems. The Nurses' Health Study enrolled 121,700 female registered nurses in 1976 to investigate the long-term effects of oral contraceptive use but has provided insights into many aspects of health and disease.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers assessed the alcohol consumption of the study participants at midlife (average age 58 years) from food frequency questionnaires completed in 1980 and 1984. Successful ageing for 13,984 participants who survived past 70 years was assessed by analyzing biennial health status questionnaires and cognitive function test results. One tenth of the women achieved successful ageing. After allowing for other factors that might affect their health such as smoking, women who drank light or moderate amounts of alcohol had a modestly increased chance of successful ageing compared to nondrinkers. For example, compared to nondrinkers, women who drank 5–15 g of alcohol per day (between one-third and one drink per day) had about a 20% higher chance of successful ageing. Independent of total alcohol intake, women who drank alcohol regularly had a better chance of successful ageing than occasional drinkers. Thus, compared to nondrinkers, women who drank five to seven days a week had nearly a 50% greater chance of successful ageing whereas women who drank only one or two days a week had a similar likelihood of successful ageing.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that regular, moderate consumption of alcohol at midlife may be related to a modest increase in overall health among women who survive to older ages. Because this is an observational study, it is possible that the women who drank moderately share other unknown characteristics that are actually responsible for their increased chance of successful ageing. Moreover, because all the study participants were women and most had European ancestry, these findings cannot be applied to men or to other ethnic groups. Nevertheless, these findings provide support for the 2010 US Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines, which state that consumption of up to one alcoholic drink per day for women and up to two alcoholic drinks per day for men may provide health benefits. Importantly, they also suggest that drinking alcohol regularly in moderation rather than occasional heavy drinking may be associated with a greater likelihood of successful ageing.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001090.
The US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has detailed information about alcohol and its effects on health, including a fact sheet on women and alcohol and a booklet entitled Alcohol, a woman's health issue
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a website on alcohol and public health
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information about drinking and alcohol, including how to calculate consumption
The Nutrition Source, a website maintained by the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, has an article entitled Alcohol: balancing risks and benefits
MedlinePlus provides links to many other resources on alcohol and on seniors' health
Details of the Nurses' Health Study are available
The 2010 US Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines are available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001090
PMCID: PMC3167795  PMID: 21909248
17.  Behind the silence of harmony: risk factors for physical and sexual violence among women in rural Indonesia 
BMC Women's Health  2011;11:52.
Background
Indonesia has the fourth largest population in the world. Few studies have identified the risk factors of Indonesian women for domestic violence. Such research will be useful for the development of prevention programs aiming at reducing domestic violence. Our study examines associations between physical and sexual violence among rural Javanese Indonesian women and sociodemographic factors, husband's psychosocial and behavioral characteristics and attitudes toward violence and gender roles.
Methods
A cohort of pregnant women within the Demographic Surveillance Site (DSS) in Purworejo district, Central Java, Indonesia, was enrolled in a longitudinal study between 1996 and 1998. In the following year (1999), a cross-sectional domestic violence household survey was conducted with 765 consenting women from that cohort. Female field workers, trained using the WHO Multi-Country study instrument on domestic violence, conducted interviews. Crude and adjusted odds ratios at 95% CI were applied for analysis.
Results
Lifetime exposure to sexual and physical violence was 22% and 11%. Sexual violence was associated with husbands' demographic characteristics (less than 35 years and educated less than 9 years) and women's economic independence. Exposure to physical violence among a small group of women (2-6%) was strongly associated with husbands' personal characteristics; being unfaithful, using alcohol, fighting with other men and having witnessed domestic violence as a child. The attitudes and norms expressed by the women confirm that unequal gender relationships are more common among women living in the highlands and being married to poorly educated men. Slightly more than half of the women (59%) considered it justifiable to refuse coercive sex. This attitude was also more common among financially independent women (71%), who also had a higher risk of exposure to sexual violence.
Conclusions
Women who did not support the right of women to refuse sex were more likely to experience physical violence, while those who justified hitting for some reasons were more likely to experience sexual violence. Our study suggests that Javanese women live in a high degree of gender-based subordination within marriage relationships, maintained and reinforced through physical and sexual violence. Our findings indicate that women's risk of physical and sexual violence is related to traditional gender norms.
doi:10.1186/1472-6874-11-52
PMCID: PMC3257195  PMID: 22112243
18.  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
19.  Schizophrenia and Violence: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(8):e1000120.
Seena Fazel and colleagues investigate the association between schizophrenia and other psychoses and violence and violent offending, and show that the increased risk appears to be partly mediated by substance abuse comorbidity.
Background
Although expert opinion has asserted that there is an increased risk of violence in individuals with schizophrenia and other psychoses, there is substantial heterogeneity between studies reporting risk of violence, and uncertainty over the causes of this heterogeneity. We undertook a systematic review of studies that report on associations between violence and schizophrenia and other psychoses. In addition, we conducted a systematic review of investigations that reported on risk of homicide in individuals with schizophrenia and other psychoses.
Methods and Findings
Bibliographic databases and reference lists were searched from 1970 to February 2009 for studies that reported on risks of interpersonal violence and/or violent criminality in individuals with schizophrenia and other psychoses compared with general population samples. These data were meta-analysed and odds ratios (ORs) were pooled using random-effects models. Ten demographic and clinical variables were extracted from each study to test for any observed heterogeneity in the risk estimates. We identified 20 individual studies reporting data from 18,423 individuals with schizophrenia and other psychoses. In men, ORs for the comparison of violence in those with schizophrenia and other psychoses with those without mental disorders varied from 1 to 7 with substantial heterogeneity (I2 = 86%). In women, ORs ranged from 4 to 29 with substantial heterogeneity (I2 = 85%). The effect of comorbid substance abuse was marked with the random-effects ORs of 2.1 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.7–2.7) without comorbidity, and an OR of 8.9 (95% CI 5.4–14.7) with comorbidity (p<0.001 on metaregression). Risk estimates of violence in individuals with substance abuse (but without psychosis) were similar to those in individuals with psychosis with substance abuse comorbidity, and higher than all studies with psychosis irrespective of comorbidity. Choice of outcome measure, whether the sample was diagnosed with schizophrenia or with nonschizophrenic psychoses, study location, or study period were not significantly associated with risk estimates on subgroup or metaregression analysis. Further research is necessary to establish whether longitudinal designs were associated with lower risk estimates. The risk for homicide was increased in individuals with psychosis (with and without comorbid substance abuse) compared with general population controls (random-effects OR = 19.5, 95% CI 14.7–25.8).
Conclusions
Schizophrenia and other psychoses are associated with violence and violent offending, particularly homicide. However, most of the excess risk appears to be mediated by substance abuse comorbidity. The risk in these patients with comorbidity is similar to that for substance abuse without psychosis. Public health strategies for violence reduction could consider focusing on the primary and secondary prevention of substance abuse.
Please see later in the article for Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Schizophrenia is a lifelong, severe psychotic condition. One in 100 people will have at least one episode of schizophrenia during their lifetime. Symptoms include delusions (for example, patients believe that someone is plotting against them) and hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that are not there). In men, schizophrenia usually starts in the late teens or early 20s; women tend to develop schizophrenia a little later. The causes of schizophrenia include genetic predisposition, obstetric complications, illegal drug use (substance abuse), and experiencing traumatic life events. The condition can be treated with a combination of antipsychotic drugs and supportive therapy; hospitalization may be necessary in very serious cases to prevent self harm. Many people with schizophrenia improve sufficiently after treatment to lead satisfying lives although some patients need lifelong support and supervision.
Why Was This Study Done?
Some people believe that schizophrenia and other psychoses are associated with violence, a perception that is often reinforced by news reports and that contributes to the stigma associated with mental illness. However, mental health advocacy groups and many mental health clinicians argue that it is a myth that people with mental health problems are violent. Several large, population-based studies have examined this disputed relationship. But, although some studies found no increased risk of violence among patients with schizophrenia compared with the general population, others found a marked increase in violent offending in patients with schizophrenia. Here, the researchers try to resolve this variation (“heterogeneity”) in the conclusions reached in different studies by doing a systematic review (a study that uses predefined search criteria to identify all the research on a specific topic) and a meta-analysis (a statistical method for combining the results of several studies) of the literature on associations between violence and schizophrenia and other psychoses. They also explored the relationship between substance abuse and violence.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
By systematically searching bibliographic databases and reference lists, the researchers identified 20 studies that compared the risk of violence in people with schizophrenia and other psychoses and the risk of violence in the general population. They then used a “random effects model” (a statistical technique that allows for heterogeneity between studies) to investigate the association between schizophrenia and violence. For men with schizophrenia or other psychoses, the pooled odds ratio (OR) from the relevant studies (which showed moderate heterogeneity) was 4.7, which was reduced to 3.8 once adjustment was made for socio-economic factors. That is, a man with schizophrenia was four to five times as likely to commit a violent act as a man in the general population. For women, the equivalent pooled OR was 8.2 but there was a much greater variation between the ORs in the individual studies than in the studies that involved men. The researchers then used “meta-regression” to investigate the heterogeneity between the studies. This analysis suggested that none of the study characteristics examined apart from co-occurring substance abuse could have caused the variation between the studies. Importantly the authors found that risk estimates of violence in people with substance abuse but no psychosis were similar to those in people with substance abuse and psychosis and higher than those in people with psychosis alone. Finally, although people with schizophrenia were nearly 20 times more likely to have committed murder than people in the general population, only one in 300 people with schizophrenia had killed someone, a similar risk to that seen in people with substance abuse.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that schizophrenia and other psychoses are associated with violence but that the association is strongest in people with substance abuse and most of the excess risk of violence associated with schizophrenia and other psychoses is mediated by substance abuse. However, the increased risk in patients with comorbidity was similar to that in substance abuse without psychosis. A potential implication of this finding is that violence reduction strategies that focus on preventing substance abuse among both the general population and among people with psychoses might be more successful than strategies that solely target people with mental illnesses. However, the quality of the individual studies included in this meta-analysis limits the strength of its conclusions and more research into the association between schizophrenia, substance abuse, and violence would assist in clarifying how and if strategies for violence reduction are changed.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000120.
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information about schizophrenia (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices Web site has information for patients and carers about schizophrenia
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has a page on schizophrenia; MedlinePlus provides links to other sources of information on schizophrenia and on psychotic disorders (in English and Spanish)
The Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America provides information and support for people with schizophrenia and their families
The time to change Web site provides information about an English campaign to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness
The Schizophrenia Research Forum provides updated research news and commentaries for the scientific community
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000120
PMCID: PMC2718581  PMID: 19668362
20.  Self-administered questionnaire versus interview as a screening method for intimate partner violence in the prenatal setting in Japan: A randomised controlled trial 
Background
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious social issue in Japan. In order to start effective interventions for abused women, the appropriate method of screening for IPV in healthcare settings needs clarifying. The objective of this study was to compare the effectiveness of a face-to-face interview with a self-administered questionnaire. We used the Violence Against Women Screen (VAWS), a Japanese screening instrument for intimate partner violence (IPV), for identifying pregnant women who have experienced abuse.
Methods
We conducted a randomised controlled trial to screen participants at three points in time in a prenatal clinic in Tokyo, Japan. There were 328 consenting women between 14 and 25 weeks of pregnancy who were consecutively selected and randomly assigned to either the interview or self-administered questionnaire group. Both groups completed the same screening instrument three times during their pregnancy. The primary outcome was the total number of women identified by each screening method and the secondary outcome was the effect of the screening as measured by the women's comfort level and their expressed need to consult with the nurse.
Results
For all three screenings, the identification rate in the interview group was significantly lower than that for the self-administered questionnaire group (relative risk 0.66, 95% CI 0.46 to 0.97), even after controlling for smoking (adjusted odds ratio 0.59, 95% CI 0.35 to 0.98). The two groups did not differ for secondary outcomes.
Conclusions
The self-administered questionnaire identified more IPV than the face-to-face interview when screening pregnant women in a Japanese prenatal clinic.
Trial Registration
UMIN-CTRC000000353
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-84
PMCID: PMC3017017  PMID: 21182802
21.  A Review of Research on Women’s Use of Violence With Male Intimate Partners 
Violence and victims  2008;23(3):301-314.
This article provides a review of research literature on women who use violence with intimate partners. The central purpose is to inform service providers in the military and civilian communities who work with domestically violent women. The major points of this review are as follows: (a) women’s violence usually occurs in the context of violence against them by their male partners; (b) in general, women and men perpetrate equivalent levels of physical and psychological aggression, but evidence suggests that men perpetrate sexual abuse, coercive control, and stalking more frequently than women and that women also are much more frequently injured during domestic violence incidents; (c) women and men are equally likely to initiate physical violence in relationships involving less serious “situational couple violence,” and in relationships in which serious and very violent “intimate terrorism” occurs, men are much more likely to be perpetrators and women victims; (d) women’s physical violence is more likely than men’s violence to be motivated by self-defense and fear, whereas men’s physical violence is more likely than women’s to be driven by control motives; (e) studies of couples in mutually violent relationships find more negative effects for women than for men; and (f ) because of the many differences in behaviors and motivations between women’s and men’s violence, interventions based on male models of partner violence are likely not effective for many women.
PMCID: PMC2968709  PMID: 18624096
women’s violence; women’s aggression; partner abuse; domestic violence
22.  Patterns of Gender Equality at Workplaces and Psychological Distress 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53246.
Research in the field of occupational health often uses a risk factor approach which has been criticized by feminist researchers for not considering the combination of many different variables that are at play simultaneously. To overcome this shortcoming this study aims to identify patterns of gender equality at workplaces and to investigate how these patterns are associated with psychological distress. Questionnaire data from the Northern Swedish Cohort (n = 715) have been analysed and supplemented with register data about the participants' workplaces. The register data were used to create gender equality indicators of women/men ratios of number of employees, educational level, salary and parental leave. Cluster analysis was used to identify patterns of gender equality at the workplaces. Differences in psychological distress between the clusters were analysed by chi-square test and logistic regression analyses, adjusting for individual socio-demographics and previous psychological distress. The cluster analysis resulted in six distinctive clusters with different patterns of gender equality at the workplaces that were associated to psychological distress for women but not for men. For women the highest odds of psychological distress was found on traditionally gender unequal workplaces. The lowest overall occurrence of psychological distress as well as same occurrence for women and men was found on the most gender equal workplaces. The results from this study support the convergence hypothesis as gender equality at the workplace does not only relate to better mental health for women, but also more similar occurrence of mental ill-health between women and men. This study highlights the importance of utilizing a multidimensional view of gender equality to understand its association to health outcomes. Health policies need to consider gender equality at the workplace level as a social determinant of health that is of importance for reducing differences in health outcomes for women and men.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053246
PMCID: PMC3541387  PMID: 23326404
23.  “We no longer live in the old days”: a qualitative study on the role of masculinity and religion for men’s views on violence within marriage in rural Java, Indonesia 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:58.
Background
Previous studies on domestic violence in Indonesia have focused primarily on women’s experiences and little research has been undertaken to understand men’s views on domestic violence or their involvement in the prevention of domestic violence. This study aimed to explore men’s views on masculinity and the use of violence within marriage, in order to gain knowledge on how to involve men in prevention of domestic violence in rural Indonesia.
Methods
Focus group discussions with six groups of local male community leaders in Purworejo were conducted. The discussions were transcribed and coded for the construction of a positional map on different masculinities and their relation to the level of acceptance of domestic violence.
Results
Social and cultural changes have played a crucial role in transforming the relationship between men and women in Indonesian society. Three different positions of masculinity with certain beliefs on the gender order and acceptance of violence within marriage were identified: the traditionalist, the pragmatist, and the egalitarian. The traditionalist had the highest acceptance of violence as a tool to uphold the superior position of men within marriage, while the pragmatist viewed violence as undesirable but sometimes needed in order to correct the wife’s behavior. The egalitarian did not see any reason for violence because they believed that men and women are equal and complementary to each other.
Conclusions
Adaptation to social and cultural changes combined with lack of exposures to contextual and progressive religious teachings has led to the formation of three different positions of masculinity among the population in this study. Each position has certain beliefs regarding the gender order and the use of violence within marriage. Religion is an extremely important aspect that must be included in every type of intervention with this population.
doi:10.1186/1472-6874-14-58
PMCID: PMC4001356  PMID: 24735687
Domestic violence; Masculinity; Positional map; Indonesia
24.  Comparative Analysis of Alcohol Control Policies in 30 Countries 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(4):e151.
Background
Alcohol consumption causes an estimated 4% of the global disease burden, prompting goverments to impose regulations to mitigate the adverse effects of alcohol. To assist public health leaders and policymakers, the authors developed a composite indicator—the Alcohol Policy Index—to gauge the strength of a country's alcohol control policies.
Methods and Findings
The Index generates a score based on policies from five regulatory domains—physical availability of alcohol, drinking context, alcohol prices, alcohol advertising, and operation of motor vehicles. The Index was applied to the 30 countries that compose the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and regression analysis was used to examine the relationship between policy score and per capita alcohol consumption. Countries attained a median score of 42.4 of a possible 100 points, ranging from 14.5 (Luxembourg) to 67.3 (Norway). The analysis revealed a strong negative correlation between score and consumption (r = −0.57; p = 0.001): a 10-point increase in the score was associated with a one-liter decrease in absolute alcohol consumption per person per year (95% confidence interval, 0.4–1.5 l). A sensitivity analysis demonstrated the robustness of the Index by showing that countries' scores and ranks remained relatively stable in response to variations in methodological assumptions.
Conclusions
The strength of alcohol control policies, as estimated by the Alcohol Policy Index, varied widely among 30 countries located in Europe, Asia, North America, and Australia. The study revealed a clear inverse relationship between policy strength and alcohol consumption. The Index provides a straightforward tool for facilitating international comparisons. In addition, it can help policymakers review and strengthen existing regulations aimed at minimizing alcohol-related harm and estimate the likely impact of policy changes.
Using an index that gauges the strength of national alcohol policies, a clear inverse relationship was found between policy strength and alcohol consumption.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Alcohol drinking is now recognized as one of the most important risks to human health. Previous research studies (see the research article by Rodgers et al., linked below) have predicted that around 4% of the burden of disease worldwide comes about as a result of drinking alcohol, which can be a factor in a wide range of health problems. These include chronic diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver and certain cancers, as well as poor health resulting from trauma, violence, and accidental injuries. For these reasons, most governments try to control the consumption of alcohol through laws, although very few countries ban alcohol entirely.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although bodies such as the World Health Assembly have recommended that its member countries develop national control policies to prevent excessive alcohol use, there is a huge variation between national policies. It is also very unclear whether there is any link between the strictness of legislation regarding alcohol control in any given country and how much people in that country actually drink.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers carrying out this study had two broad goals. First, they wanted to develop an index (or scoring system) that would allow them and others to rate the strength of any given country's alcohol control policy. Second, they wanted to see whether there is any link between the strength of control policies on this index and the amount of alcohol that is drunk by people on average in each country. In order to develop the alcohol control index, the researchers chose five main areas relating to alcohol control. These five areas related to the availability of alcohol, the “drinking context,” pricing, advertising, and vehicles. Within each policy area, specific policy topics relating to prevention of alcohol consumption and harm were identified. Then, each of 30 countries within the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) were rated on this index using recent data from public reports and databases. The researchers also collected data on alcohol consumption within each country from the World Health Organization and used this to estimate the average amount drunk per person in a year. When the researchers plotted scores on their index against the average amount drunk per person per year, they saw a negative correlation. That is, the stronger the alcohol control policy in any given country, the less people seemed to drink. This worked out at around roughly a 10-point increase on the index equating to a one-liter drop in alcohol consumption per person per year. However, some countries did not seem to fit these predictions very well.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The finding that there is a link between the strength of alcohol control policies and amount of alcohol drinking does not necessarily mean that greater government control causes lower drinking rates. The relationship might just mean that some other variable (e.g., some cultural factor) plays a role in determining the amount that people drink as well as affecting national policies for alcohol control. However, the index developed here is a useful method for researchers and policy makers to measure changes in alcohol controls and therefore understand more clearly the factors that affect drinking rates. This study looked only at the connection between control measures and extent of alcohol consumption, and did not examine alcohol-related harm. Future research might focus on the links between controls and the harms caused by alcohol.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040151.
A Perspective in PLoS Medicine by Alison Ritter accompanies this article: “Comparing alcohol policies between countries: Science or silliness?”
Facts and figures on alcohol are available from the World Health Organization, including information about the burden of disease worldwide as a result of alcohol
Information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is available about alcohol and public health
A 2004 PLoS Medicine research article includes discussion of the health burdens of alcohol: Rodgers A, Ezzati M, Vander Hoorn S, Lopez AD, Lin RB, et al. (2004) Distribution of major health risks: Findings from the global burden of disease study. PLoS Medicine 1(1): e27. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0010027
Current information about research on alcohol and alcoholism is available from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040151
PMCID: PMC1876414  PMID: 17455992
25.  A temporal comparison of BOLD, ASL, and NIRS hemodynamic responses to motor stimuli in adult humans 
NeuroImage  2005;29(2):368-382.
In this study, we have preformed simultaneous near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) along with BOLD (blood oxygen level dependent) and ASL (arterial spin labeling)-based fMRI during an event-related motor activity in human subjects in order to compare the temporal dynamics of the hemodynamic responses recorded in each method. These measurements have allowed us to examine the validity of the biophysical models underlying each modality and, as a result, gain greater insight into the hemodynamic responses to neuronal activation. Although prior studies have examined the relationships between these two methodologies through similar experiments, they have produced conflicting results in the literature for a variety of reasons. Here, by employing a short-duration, event-related motor task, we have been able to emphasize the subtle temporal differences between the hemodynamic parameters with a high contrast-to-noise ratio. As a result of this improved experimental design, we are able to report that the fMRI measured BOLD response is more correlated with the NIRS measure of deoxy-hemoglobin (R = 0.98; P < 10−20) than with oxy-hemoglobin (R = 0.71), or total hemoglobin (R = 0.53). This result was predicted from the theoretical grounds of the BOLD response and is in agreement with several previous works [Toronov, V.A.W., Choi, J.H., Wolf, M., Michalos, A., Gratton, E., Hueber, D., 2001. “Investigation of human brain hemodynamics by simultaneous near-infrared spectroscopy and functional magnetic resonance imaging.” Med. Phys. 28 (4) 521–527; MacIntosh, B.J., Klassen, L.M., Menon, R.S., 2003. “Transient hemodynamics during a breath hold challenge in a two part functional imaging study with simultaneous near-infrared spectroscopy in adult humans.” NeuroImage 20 1246– 1252; Toronov, V.A.W., Walker, S., Gupta, R., Choi, J.H., Gratton, E., Hueber, D., Webb, A., 2003. “The roles of changes in deoxyhemoglobin concentration and regional cerebral blood volume in the fMRI BOLD signal” Neuroimage 19 (4) 1521– 1531]. These data have also allowed us to examine more detailed measurement models of the fMRI signal and comment on the roles of the oxygen saturation and blood volume contributions to the BOLD response. In addition, we found high correlation between the NIRS measured total hemoglobin and ASL measured cerebral blood flow (R = 0.91; P < 10−10) and oxy-hemoglobin with flow (R = 0.83; P < 10−05) as predicted by the biophysical models. Finally, we note a significant amount of cross-modality, correlated, inter-subject variability in amplitude change and time-to-peak of the hemodynamic response. The observed co-variance in these parameters between subjects is in agreement with hemodynamic models and provides further support that fMRI and NIRS have similar vascular sensitivity.
doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.08.065
PMCID: PMC2692693  PMID: 16303317
Near-infrared spectroscopy; BOLD; ASL; Multimodality comparison

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