Depressive symptomatology as a predictor of exposure to intimate partner violence among US female adolescents and young adults

Jocelyn A Lehrer, Stephen Buka, Steven Gortmaker, Lydia A Shrier
Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 2006, 160 (3): 270-6

OBJECTIVE: To examine whether depressive symptomatology is predictive of subsequent intimate partner violence victimization among a national prospective sample of female adolescents and young adults.

DESIGN: Home interview data from 2 waves of the school-based National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health were used to examine whether baseline depressive symptomatology was associated with increased risk of past-year exposure to physical abuse by a current partner at 5-year follow-up, controlling for age, race/ethnicity, parental education, retrospective childhood physical and sexual abuse, and baseline dating violence and forced sex.

SETTING: A stratified random sample of 80 US high schools and 52 middle schools.

PARTICIPANTS: All young women (n = 1659) were in a current opposite-sex relationship at follow-up.

MAIN EXPOSURE: Baseline past-week depressive symptomatology, measured as both a dichotomous and continuous variable.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Past-year exposure to mild and moderate to severe physical abuse by a current intimate partner.

RESULTS: In adjusted models with dichotomous depressive symptoms, high baseline symptom levels were associated with 1.86 times the odds of subsequent exposure to moderate to severe partner violence (95% confidence interval, 1.05-3.29). In adjusted models with continuous depressive symptoms, an increase of 1 SD in baseline symptom levels was associated with a 24% increase in odds of exposure to mild partner violence and a 24% increase in the odds of exposure to moderate to severe partner violence.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this study suggest that depressive symptomatology among girls during adolescence is associated with increased risk of subsequent exposure to physical partner violence. Prevention, identification, and treatment of depressive symptomatology among adolescent girls may help to reduce the likelihood of subsequent victimization.

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