Psychiatric Disorders Prior to Dating Initiation and Physical Dating Violence Before Age 21

Findings from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R)

Published in: Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, v. 50, no. 9, Sep. 2015, p.1357-1365

Posted on RAND.org on November 11, 2015

by Heather L. McCauley, Joshua Breslau, N. Saito, Elizabeth Miller

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PURPOSE: Poor mental health is associated with teen dating violence (TDV), but whether there are specific types of psychiatric disorders that could be targeted with intervention to reduce TDV remains unknown. METHODS: Multivariable logistic regression models were used to assess the associations of psychiatric disorders that emerged prior to dating initiation with subsequent physical dating violence in a nationally representative sample from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, adjusting statistically for adverse childhood experiences. RESULTS: In adjusted models, internalizing disorders (AOR 1.14, 95 % CI 1.04,1.25; no sex differences noted) and externalizing disorders (males: AOR 1.28, 95 % CI 1.10, 1.49; females: AOR 1.85, 95 % CI 1.55, 2.21) were associated with subsequent involvement in any physical dating violence victimization or perpetration before the age of 21. Those at greatest risk included girls with ADHD and a substance use disorder, in particular. CONCLUSIONS: The range of psychiatric disorders associated with TDV is broader than has generally been recognized for both boys and girls. Clinical and public health prevention programs should incorporate strategies for addressing multiple pathways through which poor mental health may put adolescents at risk for TDV.

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