Gender differences in the relationship between mental illness and violence: evidence from a community-based epidemiological study in Israel

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Abstract

Although males are generally more likely than females to report violent behaviors, emerging evidence suggests that the gender gap is substantially reduced among individuals with mental illness. This paper investigates whether the associations between gender and self-reported violent behaviors (fighting and weapon use) are moderated by three mental health indicators – treatment status, psychiatric diagnosis, and threat/control-override psychotic symptoms. Data from a two-stage epidemiological study conducted in Israel (weighted N = 2706) are analyzed using descriptive statistics and logistic regression analysis. Results indicate that treatment status and psychiatric diagnosis moderate the association between gender and fighting, but leave open questions both about the moderating role of threat/control-override symptoms and about the implications of mental illness for the gender/weapon use relationship.