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Systematic review and meta-analysis of psychiatric disorder and the perpetration of partner violence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 August 2013

S. Oram
Health Service and Population Research Department, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, UK
K. Trevillion
Health Service and Population Research Department, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, UK
H. Khalifeh
MRCPsych; Mental Health Sciences Unit, Faculty of Brain Sciences, University College London, London, UK
G. Feder
Centre for Academic Primary Care, School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
L.M. Howard*
Health Service and Population Research Department, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, UK
*Address for correspondence: Professor L.M. Howard, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, PO31 David Goldberg Centre, De Crespigny Park, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AF, UK. (Email:



The extent to which psychiatric disorders are associated with an increased risk of violence to partners is unclear. This review aimed to establish risk of violence against partners among men and women with diagnosed psychiatric disorders.


Systematic review and meta-analysis. Searches of eleven electronic databases were supplemented by hand searching, reference screening and citation tracking of included articles, and expert recommendations.


Seventeen studies were included, reporting on 72 585 participants, but only three reported on past year violence. Pooled risk estimates could not be calculated for past year violence against a partner and the three studies did not consistently report increased risk for any diagnosis. Pooled estimates showed an increased risk of having ever been physically violent towards a partner among men with depression (odds ratio (OR) 2.8, 95% confidence intervals (CI) 2.5–3.3), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) (OR 3.2, 95% CI 2.3–4.4) and panic disorder (OR 2.5, 95% CI C% 1.7–3.6). Increased risk was also found among women with depression (OR 2.4, 95% CI 2.1–2.8), GAD (OR 2.4, 95% CI 1.9–3.0) and panic disorder (OR 1.9, 95% CI 1.4–2.5).


Psychiatric disorders are associated with high prevalence and increased odds of having ever been physically violent against a partner. As history of violence is a predictor of current violence, mental health professionals should ask about previous partner violence when assessing risk.

Original Articles
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

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