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Violence and Mental Health

Investigating Exposure to Violence and Mental Health in a Diverse Urban Community Sample: Data from the South East London Community Health (SELCoH) Survey (2014)

 

G. Kadra, K. Dean, M. Hotopf and S. Hatch

 

Background

General population surveys have seldom examined violence as a multidimensional concept and in relation to an array of mental disorders.

How was the study conducted?

Data from the South East London Community Health Study was used to examine the prevalence, overlap and distribution of proximal witnessed, victimised and perpetrated violence and their association with current mental disorders. We further investigated the cumulative effect of lifetime exposure to violence on current mental disorders. Unadjusted and adjusted (for confounders and violence) models were examined.

What did we find?

In the last twelve months, 7.4% reported witnessing violence, 6.3% victimisation and 3.2% perpetration of violence. There was a significant overlap across violence types, with some shared correlates across the groups such as being younger and male. Witnessing violence in the past year was associated with current common mental disorders (CMD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. Proximal perpetration was associated with current CMD, PTSD symptoms and past 12 months drug use; whereas proximal victimisation was associated with lifetime and past 12 months drug use. Lifetime exposure to two or more types of violence was associated with increased risk for all mental health outcomes, suggesting a cumulative effect.

Conclusions

Exposure to violence needs to be examined in a multi-faceted manner: i) as discrete distal and proximal events, which may have distinct patterns of association with mental health and ii) as a concept with different but overlapping dimensions, thus also accounting for possible cumulative effects.

 

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