Pre-marital predictors of marital violence in the WHO World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys

on behalf of the WHO World Mental Health Survey Collaborators, Cara M. Stokes, Jordi Alonso, Laura Helena Andrade, Lukoye Atwoli, Graça Cardoso, Wai Tat Chiu, Rumyana V. Dinolova, Oye Gureje, Aimee N. Karam, Elie G. Karam, Ronald C. Kessler, Somnath Chatterji, Andrew King, Sing Lee, Zeina Mneimneh, Bibilola D. Oladeji, Maria Petukhova, Charlene Rapsey, Nancy A. SampsonKate Scott, Amy Street, Maria Carmen Viana, Michelle A. Williams, Robert M. Bossarte*, Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, Ali Al-Hamzawi, Mohammed Salih Al-Kaisy, Corina Benjet, Guilherme Borges, Evelyn J. Bromet, Ronny Bruffaerts, Brendan Bunting, Jose Miguel Caldas de Almeida, Alfredo H. Cia, Louisa Degenhardt, Koen Demyttenaere, John Fayyad, Silvia Florescu, Giovanni de Girolamo, Josep Maria Haro, Yanling He, Hristo Hinkov, Chi yi Hu, Yueqin Huang, Peter de Jonge, Aimee Nasser Karam, Norito Kawakami, Andrzej Kiejna, Viviane Kovess-Masfety, David R. Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Purpose: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a pervasive public health problem. Existing research has focused on reports from victims and few studies have considered pre-marital factors. The main objective of this study was to identify pre-marital predictors of IPV in the current marriage using information obtained from husbands and wives. Methods: Data from were obtained from married heterosexual couples in six countries. Potential predictors included demographic and relationship characteristics, adverse childhood experiences, dating violence, and psychiatric disorders. Reports of IPV and other characteristics from husbands and wives were considered independently and in relation to spousal reports. Results: Overall, 14.4% of women were victims of IPV in the current marriage. Analyses identified ten significant variables including age at first marriage (husband), education, relative number of previous marriages (wife), history of one or more categories of childhood adversity (husband or wife), history of dating violence (husband or wife), early initiation of sexual intercourse (husband or wife), and four combinations of internalizing and externalizing disorders. The final model was moderately predictive of marital violence, with the 5% of women accounting for 18.6% of all cases of marital IPV. Conclusions: Results from this study advance understanding of pre-marital predictors of IPV within current marriages, including the importance of considering differences in the experiences of partners prior to marriage and may provide a foundation for more targeted primary prevention efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-405
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1-Mar-2020


  • Epidemiology
  • International
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Mental health
  • Predictive modeling

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