Mental disorder, violence, and gender

Law Hum Behav. 2003 Dec;27(6):561-71. doi: 10.1023/b:lahu.0000004886.13268.f2.


Recent studies have reported comparable rates of violence among men and women with mental disorder, raising important issues for clinical risk assessment. This study examines the relationship between gender and violence using data from the MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment Study. Patients in acute psychiatric wards were interviewed 5 times over the year following their discharge to the community. Results showed some differences between men and women in the violence committed immediately following discharge, with rates for men being higher. But the prevalence of violence over the 1 year was similar for female and male discharged patients. However, there were substantial gender differences in the situational context of the violence committed. Men were more likely to have been drinking or using street drugs, and less likely to have been adhering to prescribed psychotropic medication, prior to committing violence. The violence committed by men was more likely to result in serious injury than the violence committed by women, and men were more likely than women to be arrested after committing a violent act. Women were more likely to target family members and to be violent in the home.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Sex Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Violence / psychology
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*