The Effects Of Violence On Health

Health Aff (Millwood). 2019 Oct;38(10):1622-1629. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2019.00480.


Violence in its many forms can affect the health of people who are the targets, those who are the perpetrators, and the communities in which both live. In this article we review the literature on the health consequences of many forms of violence, including child physical and sexual abuse, intimate partner violence, elder abuse, sexual violence, youth violence, and bullying. The biological effects of violence have become increasingly better understood and include effects on the brain, neuroendocrine system, and immune response. Consequences include increased incidences of depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and suicide; increased risk of cardiovascular disease; and premature mortality. The health consequences of violence vary with the age and sex of the victim as well as the form of violence. People can be the victims of multiple forms of violence, and the health effects can be cumulative.

Keywords: Adolescents; Adverse childhood experiences; Children’s health; Depression; Health policy; Mental health; Post traumatic stress disorder; Stress; Violence.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Elder Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders*
  • Sex Offenses / statistics & numerical data*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • United States / epidemiology