The relationship between intimate partner violence and probable depression among adolescent girls and young women in Lilongwe, Malawi

Glob Public Health. 2020 Jun;15(6):865-876. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2020.1718732. Epub 2020 Jan 29.


This analysis estimates prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) and its association with probable depression among adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in Lilongwe, Malawi, and whether partner's controlling behaviour modifies this relationship. Baseline data was utilised from the Girl Power-Malawi study of 1000 15-24-year-old AGYW in Lilongwe. Emotional, physical, and sexual IPV experiences with a current or recent partner were measured using the modified Conflict Tactics Scale. Probable depression was measured by scoring ≥10 on the Centre for Epidemiologic Studies-Short Depression Scale (CES-D-10). Generalised linear models with log-link and binomial distribution estimated prevalence ratios (PR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the association between IPV types and probable depression. Partner's controlling behaviour was examined as an effect modifier. Participants' mean age was 19.2 years, with 70% never-married. IPV prevalence varied for emotional (59%), physical (36%), sexual (46%), and all forms (20%). Prevalence of probable depression was 47%. AGYW who experienced each IPV type had a higher prevalence of probable depression: physical (PR:1.54, CI:1.28-1.86), sexual (1.46, CI:1.21-1.75), emotional (1.37, CI:1.14-1.64), all forms (1.72, CI:1.41-2.09). IPV and probable depression were prevalent and strongly associated, especially among AGYW reporting controlling behaviour. Interventions addressing IPV and controlling behaviour may positively impact depression among AGYW.

Keywords: Intimate partner violence; Malawi; adolescent girls; depression; young women.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Depression* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence* / psychology
  • Malawi / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult