Domestic violence and severe psychiatric disorders: prevalence and interventions

L. M. Howard, K. Trevillion, H. Khalifeh, A. Woodall, R. Agnew-Davies, G. Feder

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

158 Citations (Scopus)


Background. The lifetime prevalence of domestic violence in women is 20-25%. There is increasing recognition of the increased vulnerability of psychiatric populations to domestic violence. We therefore aimed to review studies on the prevalence of, and the evidence for the effectiveness of interventions in, psychiatric patients experiencing domestic violence. Method. Literature search using Medline, PsycINFO and EMBASE applying the following inclusion criteria : English-language papers, data provided on the prevalence of or interventions for domestic violence, adults in contact with mental health services. Results. Reported lifetime prevalence of severe domestic violence among psychiatric in-patients ranged from 30% to 60%. Lower rates are reported for men when prevalence is reported by gender. No controlled studies were identified. Low rates of detection of domestic violence occur in routine clinical practice and there is some evidence that, when routine enquiry is introduced into services, detection rates improve, but identification of domestic violence is rarely used in treatment planning. There is a lack of evidence on the effectiveness of routine enquiry in terms of morbidity and mortality, and there have been no studies investigating specific domestic violence interventions for psychiatric patients. Conclusions. There is a high prevalence of domestic violence in psychiatric populations but the extent of the increased risk in psychiatric patients compared with other populations is not clear because of the limitations of the methodology used in the studies identified. There is also very limited evidence on how to address domestic violence with respect to the identification and provision of evidence-based interventions in mental health services.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)881-893
Number of pages13
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


Dive into the research topics of 'Domestic violence and severe psychiatric disorders: prevalence and interventions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this