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Risk of Domestic Violence Perpetration in Mental Health Service Users

Posted on 21/11/2017

Mental illness is a known risk factor for behaving violently towards others. However, there is currently limited evidence exploring the link between mental illness and violence in a domestic setting (DV), for example towards partners or family members. This project will assess the risk, prevalence, and risk factors involved in DV perpetration among individuals with mental illness. 

A systematic review of the existing literature will be conducted, and if the sufficient high quality studies are available a meta-analysis will also be performed, estimating the odds and risk of DV perpetration in individuals with mental illness. This will provide an update to Oram et al’s (2014) systematic review and meta-analysis. An individual participant data meta-analysis will also be conducted on data collected from national surveys and datasets collected directly from researchers. This will allow further exploration into associations, confounders and moderators.

A particularly detailed analysis will be conducted using the 2014 England and Wales Adult Psychiatric Co-morbidity Survey (APMS), as questions on DV perpetration were added to the 2014 questionnaire. This survey provides data on the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in the UK. It uses a stratified, multi-stage probability sample of UK households of individuals aged between 16 and 74. This provides a unique and novel opportunity to allow analysis into the relationship between mental illness and different types of DV perpetration. Associations between DV and mental illness variables will be calculated, and logistic regressions will enable the influence of multiple factors to be examined. 

As well as addressing gaps in the literature, this research will aid in identifying risk factors that can guide identification of at-risk victims and perpetrators, and guide the development of appropriate DV interventions.

This PhD is being carried out by Katherine Saunders, under the supervision of Professor Louise Howard, Professor in Women’s Mental Health, Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist and Head of the Section of Women’s Mental Health, Professor Sabine Landau, Professor of Biostatistics, and Dr Sian Oram, Lecturer in Women’s Mental Health.

The project is funded by a NIHR Maudsley BRC PhD Studentship.

For more information on this project, contact

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