Background: While the link between alcohol use and male-perpetrated intimate partner violence (IPV) has been well-established, research is needed to test whether psychosocial factors interact with alcohol use to exacerbate IPV perpetration. We tested whether depressive symptoms influenced the strength and/or direction of the alcohol-IPV relationship among men with HIV in Vietnam.
Methods: This study is a secondary analysis using data from a randomized controlled trial conducted in Thai Nguyen, Vietnam. Participants were clinic patients with HIV and hazardous alcohol use. Questionnaires were administered at baseline, three, six, and 12 months. Alcohol use was assessed as proportion of days alcohol abstinent. Analyses were restricted to males who reported being married/cohabitating at baseline (N = 313). Multilevel growth models were used to test whether time-varying depressive symptoms modified the time-varying effect of alcohol use on IPV perpetration.
Results: Time-varying depressive symptoms modified the effect of proportion of days alcohol abstinent on IPV perpetration. However, the pattern of effect modification was not as expected, as reporting depressive symptoms weakened the alcohol-IPV relationship. At times when participants screened negative for depressive symptoms, those who reported higher proportion of days alcohol abstinent than usual had significantly lower odds of IPV perpetration (Odds Ratio [OR] = 0.17, 95% Confidence Interval 0.06, 0.45, p = 0.0004). At times when participants screened positive for depressive symptoms, there was no observed effect of alcohol use on IPV perpetration (OR = 4.28, 95% CI 0.80, 22.78, p = 0.09).
Conclusion: The findings highlight the complex nature of the alcohol-IPV relationship and the need to investigate the intersection between hazardous drinking, mental health, and IPV. Men who concurrently report depressive symptoms and heightened alcohol use may be socially isolated from an intimate partner or experiencing fatigue, leading to less alcohol-related IPV perpetration. Mental health interventions addressing depression and alcohol misuse integrated into HIV services may reduce IPV perpetration.