ADHD Symptoms as Risk Factors for Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration and Victimization

Brian T Wymbs, Anne E Dawson, Julie A Suhr, Nora Bunford, Christine A Gidycz
Journal of Interpersonal Violence 2017, 32 (5): 659-681
Preliminary evidence underscores links between attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms and intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration and victimization. However, little is known about whether ADHD symptoms are uniquely associated with IPV perpetration and victimization beyond well-established risk factors of IPV commonly associated with the disorder. In a cross-sectional design, 433 college students rated their ADHD symptoms as well as frequencies of psychological and physical IPV perpetration and victimization. Additional risk factors of IPV included childhood maltreatment, primary psychopathy, alcohol abuse, and illicit drug use. Correlational analyses indicated that students with greater ADHD symptom severity reported higher rates of psychological and physical IPV perpetration, and higher rates of psychological IPV victimization. Regression analyses indicated that ADHD symptoms were not additive risk factors of psychological IPV perpetration and victimization. Students reporting any alcohol abuse or illicit drug use endorsed high rates of psychological IPV perpetration and victimization, regardless of their level of ADHD symptoms. However, students who reported no alcohol abuse or drug use, but did report greater ADHD symptom severity-particularly inattention, indicated higher rates of psychological IPV perpetration and victimization than those reporting no alcohol abuse or drug use and low ADHD symptoms. These findings extend prior research by indicating that alcohol abuse and illicit drug use moderate associations between ADHD symptoms and psychological IPV perpetration and victimization. Investigations are needed to identify mechanisms of the association between ADHD symptoms and IPV perpetration and victimization, particularly those abusing alcohol and drugs, for appropriate prevention and intervention efforts to be developed.

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