Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: Intimate partner violence (IPV) against women is associated with a wide range of adverse outcomes. Although mental disorders have been linked to an increased risk of perpetrating IPV against women, the direction and magnitude of the association remain uncertain. In a longitudinal design, we examined the association between mental disorders and IPV perpetrated by men towards women in a population-based sample and used sibling comparisons to control for factors shared by siblings, such as genetic and early family environmental factors. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Using Swedish nationwide registries, we identified men from 9 diagnostic groups over 1998-2013, with sample sizes ranging from 9,529 with autism to 88,182 with depressive disorder. We matched individuals by age and sex to general population controls (ranging from 186,017 to 1,719,318 controls), and calculated the hazard ratios of IPV against women. We also estimated the hazard ratios of IPV against women in unaffected full siblings (ranging from 4,818 to 37,885 individuals) compared with the population controls. Afterwards, we compared the hazard ratios for individuals with psychiatric diagnoses with those for siblings using the ratio of hazard ratios (RHR). In sensitivity analyses, we examined the contribution of previous IPV against women and common psychiatric comorbidities, substance use disorders and personality disorders. The average follow-up time across diagnoses ranged from 3.4 to 4.8 years. In comparison to general population controls, all psychiatric diagnoses studied except autism were associated with an increased risk of IPV against women in men, with hazard ratios ranging from 1.5 (95% CI 1.3-1.7) to 7.7 (7.2-8.3) (p-values < 0.001). In sibling analyses, we found that men with depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, alcohol use disorder, drug use disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and personality disorders had a higher risk of IPV against women than their unaffected siblings, with RHR values ranging from 1.7 (1.3-2.1) to 4.4 (3.7-5.2) (p-values < 0.001). Sensitivity analyses showed higher risk of IPV against women in men when comorbid substance use disorders and personality disorders were present, compared to risk when these comorbidities were absent. In addition, increased IPV risk was also found in those without previous IPV against women. The absolute rates of IPV against women ranged from 0.1% to 2.1% across diagnoses over 3.4 to 4.8 years. Individuals with alcohol use disorders (1.7%, 1,406/82,731) and drug use disorders (2.1%, 1,216/57,901) had the highest rates. Our analyses were restricted to IPV leading to arrest, suggesting that the applicability of our results may be limited to more severe forms of IPV perpetration. CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that most of the studied mental disorders are associated with an increased risk of perpetrating IPV towards women, and that substance use disorders, as principal or comorbid diagnoses, have the highest absolute and relative risks. The findings support the development of IPV risk identification and prevention services among men with substance use disorders as an approach to reduce the prevalence of IPV.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS Med

Publication Date





Adolescent, Adult, Alcoholism, Comorbidity, Female, Humans, Intimate Partner Violence, Longitudinal Studies, Male, Mental Disorders, Middle Aged, Prevalence, Risk Factors, Substance-Related Disorders, Sweden, Young Adult