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Gender-based violence and mental disorders in female college students

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To assess the association between gender-based violence and DSM-IV Axis I disorders in female college students.


A stratified random sample of 1,043 college women (average age 22.2 years) participated in the study. We collected sociodemographic, socioeconomic and academic information as well as information on the participants’ experience of gender-based violence victimization. The presence of mental disorders during the 12 months preceding the study was assessed by clinically trained interviewers applying the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I disorders-Clinician Version (SCID-CV).


15.2% of the participants reported lifetime gender-based violence victimization. Almost two-thirds of the victims had suffered some Axis I disorder during the past year, a significantly larger proportion than among non-victims (OR = 3.72; 95% CI 2.61–5.30). Mood disorders and anxiety disorders were both significantly more common among victims than non-victims (OR = 4.26; 95% CI 2.81–6.46 and OR = 1.97; 95% CI 1.20–3.24, respectively). The most prevalent individual disorder among victims was major depressive disorder (26.41%). Among victims of purely psychological violence, the overall rate of Axis I disorder was similar to the rate among other victims (67 and 61%, respectively).


Among female university students, the experience of physical or psychological gender-based violence is associated with mental disorder. These findings suggest the need for treatment and prevention interventions designed specifically for this population.

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This study was funded by Project 2007/21-0 of the Secretary for Equality and Welfare (Xunta de Galicia).

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Correspondence to Fernando L. Vázquez.



Gender-based violence interview questionnaire

I will ask you some questions about your relations with other people and their nature. All the information provided will be treated as confidential and you are not obliged to answer those questions you do not want to. If someone comes in, I will change the subject of our conversation. We will start when you are ready.


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Vázquez, F.L., Torres, A. & Otero, P. Gender-based violence and mental disorders in female college students. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 47, 1657–1667 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-012-0472-2

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  • Prevalence
  • Gender-based violence
  • Young women
  • Mental disorders