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Original research
Domestic violence victimisation and its association with mental distress: a cross-sectional study of the Yangon Region, Myanmar
  1. Win Thuzar Aye1,2,
  2. Lars Lien3,
  3. Hein Stigum1,
  4. Berit Schei4,
  5. Johanne Sundby1,
  6. Espen Bjertness1
  1. 1Department of Community Medicine and Global Health, Institute of Health and Society, University of Oslo Faculty of Medicine, Oslo, Norway
  2. 2Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Medicine (2), Yangon, Myanmar
  3. 3National Norwegian advisory board for concurrent addiction and mental health problems, Innlandet Hospital Trust, Brumunddal and Faculty of Social and Health Sciences, Inland Norway University of Applied Science, Elverum, Oslo, Norway
  4. 4Department of Public Health and Nursing, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Dr Win Thuzar Aye; winthuzaraye{at}


Objectives To estimate the prevalence of domestic violence, with subgroups of physical, sexual and emotional violence, among men and women and to assess the association between any lifetime domestic violence (DV) and mental distress among ever-married men and women.

Design We conducted a cross-sectional study from October to November 2016 using a multistage sampling design. DV questionnaire was adopted from the Demographic and Health Survey programme. Mental distress was estimated using the Hopkins Symptom Checklist-10 (HSCL-10). HSCL-score and DV were the outcome and exposure variables, respectively, in multiple linear regression. Prevalence estimates and associations were presented with a 95% CI and the Wald test.

Setting Urban and rural areas of the Yangon region, Myanmar.

Participants Men and women ages 18 to 49 years were included. Institutionalised people, monks, nuns and individuals deemed too ill physically and/or mentally to participate were excluded.

Results A random sample of 2383 people was included in the analyses. Among ever-married participants, lifetime (LT) and past-12-month (12M) prevalence of any domestic violence victimisation was higher in women compared with men: LT women: 61.8% (95% CI: 54.3 to 68.9) versus LT men: 42.4% (95% CI: 37.5 to 47.5) and 12M women: 51.2% (95% CI: 44.9 to 57.5) versus 12M men: 37.7% (95% CI: 32.9 to 42.7). Among never-married participants, lifetime physical and sexual violence victimisation rates was higher in men (34.3% and 7.9%) compared with women (19.1% and 6.4%). Mental distress was significantly associated with lifetime DV in women who were afraid of their husbands and men who had wives who exhibited controlling behaviours.

Conclusions Domestic violence is prevalent among both men and women and is associated with mental distress. The findings highlight an urgent need to prevent domestic violence in both sexes, including through legal and policy reform and improved mental health services for DV victims.

  • public health
  • adult psychiatry
  • sexual and gender disorders
  • epidemiology

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  • Contributors WTZA contributed to the design of the study, the data collection, the data analysis and the interpretation and preparation of the draft manuscript. LL participated in the design of the study and commented on the draft. HS conducted data analysis and interpretation of the data. BS and JS contributed to the interpretation of the data and provided intellectual input on the draft. EB was the key contributor for the conception and design of the study and interpretation of the data and provided intellectual input on the draft. All authors read and approved the final content of the manuscript.

  • Funding The research was funded by the Norwegian programme (Norad/NORHED) for Capacity Development in Higher Education and Research for Development through the project entitled Health and Sustainable Development in Myanmar - Competence building in public health and medical research and education, MY-NORTH. Project: MMY-13/0049 (MY-NORTH-1300650).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.

  • Ethics approval In Myanmar, the study was approved by the University of Public Health and Ministry of Health and Sports. In Norway, approval was granted by the Regional Committees for Medical and Health Research Ethics (REK). All participants signed an informed consent form. To ensure privacy and confidentiality, respondents’ names, addresses and personal ID were removed from questionnaires and data files.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request. Not available for additional data.

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