Gender differences in violence exposure among university students attending campus health clinics in the United States and Canada

J Adolesc Health. 2009 Dec;45(6):587-94. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2009.03.024. Epub 2009 May 30.


Purpose: To explore gender differences in prevalence, types, perpetrators, and correlates of recent violence experiences among university students at campus clinics at five universities in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest U.S. and Canada.

Methods: Systematic survey of students presenting for routine primary care visits (N=2,091), pencil-and-paper screen for recent emotional and physical violence exposure (past 6 months), demographics, plus sensation-seeking, at-risk alcohol use, and depression. Chi-square tests compared prevalence by gender; correlates for types of violence were analyzed separately for men and women using chi-square with adjusted standardized residuals comparing no violence, intimate partner violence (IPV) and other violence (Other).

Results: Similar rates of men (17%) and women (16%) reported any violence in the past 6 months; women were more likely to report emotional and men to report physical violence. Of those reporting emotional violence, 45.5% women and 50% men indicated it was IPV, and 23.7% women and 20.9% men reported physical IPV. Correlates differed by gender; demographics were not linked to IPV. At-risk drinking was associated with both IPV and Other violence for women, but only Other violence for men. Depression was the only correlate significantly linked to IPV for men.

Conclusions: Recent violence exposure among university students affects nearly one in five attending campus clinics. Screening for violence exposure should include both men and women, especially students who indicate heavy drinking patterns or depressive symptoms. Campus health promotion interventions should address healthy dating relationships. Further research on IPV among college men is needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Canada
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Midwestern United States
  • Pacific States
  • Sex Factors
  • Student Health Services*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Violence / psychology*
  • Young Adult