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November 2, 2011

Gender-Based Violence in Women and Mental Disorders

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Jody W. Zylke, MD, Senior Editor.

Author Affiliations: Gender and Women's Health, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, the Netherlands (k.vanrosmalen-nooijens@elg.umcn.nl).

JAMA. 2011;306(17):1862-1863. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1580

To the Editor: Dr Rees and colleagues1 studied the prevalence of gender-based violence (GBV) among women and the relationship with mental disorders and psychosocial function. However, they did not comment on the possible role of intergenerational transmission of violence: children exposed to violence have a high chance to abuse or be abused in their adult life.2 In the article, Table 2 shows that women who reported any childhood nonsexual trauma had the highest prevalence of GBV later in life (55.77%), which is higher than any other patient characteristic described in the table. Unfortunately, the researchers did not investigate the association between nonsexual childhood trauma, GBV, and mental disorders. Early support for children exposed to violence may be an important factor to prevent intergenerational transmission and therefore GBV and associated mental disorders, just as social support is important to reduce GBV and the negative mental health effects of GBV.3 The authors collected data on social support but used it only as a control factor.