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JAMA. 2011 Aug 3;306(5):513-21. doi: 10.1001/jama.2011.1098.

Lifetime prevalence of gender-based violence in women and the relationship with mental disorders and psychosocial function.

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  • 1School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, and Center for Population Mental Health Research, Liverpool Hospital, Sydney South West Area Health Network, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 2170.



Intimate partner physical violence, rape, sexual assault, and stalking are pervasive and co-occurring forms of gender-based violence (GBV). An association between these forms of abuse and lifetime mental disorder and psychosocial disability among women needs to be examined.


To assess the association of GBV and mental disorder, its severity and comorbidity, and psychosocial functioning among women.


A cross-sectional study based on the Australian National Mental Health and Well-being Survey in 2007, of 4451 women (65% response rate) aged 16 to 85 years.


The Composite International Diagnostic Interview version 3.0 of the World Health Organization's World Mental Health Survey Initiative was used to assess lifetime prevalence of any mental disorder, anxiety, mood disorder, substance use disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Also included were indices of lifetime trauma exposure, including GBV, sociodemographic characteristics, economic status, family history of mental disorder, social supports, general mental and physical functioning, quality of life, and overall disability.


A total of 1218 women (27.4%) reported experiencing at least 1 type of GBV. For women exposed to 3 or 4 types of GBV (n = 139), the rates of mental disorders were 77.3% (odds ratio [OR], 10.06; 95% confidence interval [CI], 5.85-17.30) for anxiety disorders, 52.5% (OR, 3.59; 95% CI, 2.31-5.60) for mood disorder, 47.1% (OR, 5.61; 95% CI, 3.46-9.10) for substance use disorder, 56.2% (OR, 15.90; 95% CI, 8.32-30.20) for PTSD, 89.4% (OR, 11.00; 95% CI, 5.46-22.17) for any mental disorder, and 34.7% (OR, 14.80; 95% CI, 6.89-31.60) for suicide attempts. Gender-based violence was associated with more severe current mental disorder (OR, 4.60; 95% CI, 2.93-7.22), higher rates of 3 or more lifetime disorders (OR, 7.79; 95% CI, 6.10-9.95), physical disability (OR, 4.00; 95% CI, 1.82-8.82), mental disability (OR, 7.14; 95% CI, 2.87-17.75), impaired quality of life (OR, 2.96; 95% CI, 1.60-5.47), an increase in disability days (OR, 3.14; 95% CI, 2.43-4.05), and overall disability (OR, 2.73; 95% CI, 1.99-3.75).


Among a nationally representative sample of Australian women, GBV was significantly associated with mental health disorder, dysfunction, and disability.

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