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Soc Sci Med. 2015 Apr;131:89-97. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.03.008. Epub 2015 Mar 6.

Increase of perceived frequency of neighborhood domestic violence is associated with increase of women's depression symptoms in a nationally representative longitudinal study in South Africa.

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University of California, San Francisco, Department of Psychiatry, 401 Parnassus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA. Electronic address:
University of California, San Francisco, Division of Biostatistics, UCSF Box 0560, 185 Berry Street, Lobby 5, Suite 5700, San Francisco, CA 94107-1762, USA. Electronic address:
University of California, San Francisco, Department of Psychiatry, UCSF Box 116P VAMC, 4150 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA. Electronic address:
University of California, San Francisco, Department of Internal Medicine, 995 Potrero Ave, SFGH 80, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA. Electronic address:
Alan J. Flisher Centre for Public Mental Health, Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, University of Cape Town, 46 Sawkins Road, Rondebosch, 7700 Cape Town, South Africa. Electronic address:


Studies that examine the effects of neighborhood characteristics on mental health show that perceptions of general neighborhood violence are associated with depression across diverse populations (Clark et al., 2008; Velez-Gomez et al., 2013; Wilson-Genderson & Pruchno, 2013). However, to our knowledge, none have examined the specific effect of perceived frequency of neighborhood domestic violence (PFNDV) on residents' mental health, despite knowledge that domestic violence is a potent predictor of depression at the level of the individual. This study investigates the impact of PFNDV on mental health using the South African National Income Dynamics Study (SA-NIDS). NIDS Waves 2 and 3 measure the perceived frequency of six neighborhood violence subtypes through the NIDS household respondent questionnaire and depression through a questionnaire administered to all NIDS participants. Linear regression was used to model the relationship between change in depression symptoms and change in violence subtypes between Waves 2 and 3. We found that two-year increase in PFNDV was significantly correlated with increase of depression symptoms over the same time period for women, independently of individual, household and neighborhood level characteristics, including five other types of neighborhood violence. No other type of violence was associated with increased depression in women in the fully adjusted model. Research and policy implications are discussed.


Depression; Domestic violence; Longitudinal; Mental health; National income dynamics study; Neighborhood violence; South Africa; Women's mental health

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