Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, and young adult intimate partner violence

Xiangming Fang, Greta M Massetti, Lijing Ouyang, Scott D Grosse, James A Mercy
Archives of General Psychiatry 2010, 67 (11): 1179-86

CONTEXT: Studies based on clinical samples suggest a connection between childhood attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and later intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the association between retrospectively reported childhood ADHD and conduct disorder (CD) symptoms and the perpetration of physical IPV in a population-based sample of young adults.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: The study population consisted of 11 238 participants (mean [SD] age, 22.0 [1.7] years) in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Multinomial logistic regressions and propensity score matching were used to analyze the relationships of IPV with symptoms of ADHD domains (hyperactive/impulsive and inattentive) and symptoms of CD as well as with ADHD and CD dichotomized on the basis of symptom criteria.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Respondents' answers to the 2 questions in the wave III survey reflecting perpetration of physical violence toward a partner were used to define IPV perpetration. Intimate partner violence perpetration resulting in injury or not was assessed with a follow-up question.

RESULTS: Conduct disorder significantly predicted IPV perpetration both with and without injury. Controlling for CD and hyperactivity/impulsivity, inattention independently predicted young adult IPV perpetration without injury. Controlling for inattention and CD, no significant relationship between hyperactivity/impulsivity and IPV perpetration without injury was found. Results were different regarding IPV perpetration resulting in injury. Hyperactivity/impulsivity, but not inattention, independently predicted IPV perpetration resulting in injury. In categorical analyses, CD predicted both types of IPV, and ADHD significantly predicted IPV perpetration resulting in injury but did not significantly predict IPV perpetration without injury.

CONCLUSIONS: Conduct disorder is consistently associated with violence in intimate relationships. Controlling for CD, there is also an association between ADHD and IPV. Results suggest the need for services and treatment strategies that specifically address the risks for violence and promote healthy intimate relationships for youths with CD and ADHD.

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