Prevalence and health outcomes of domestic violence amongst clinical populations in Arab countries: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Claire Hawcroft*, Rachael Hughes, Amira Shaheen, Jinan Usta, Hannah Elkadi, Tom Dalton, Khadijah Ginwalla, Gene Feder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)
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BACKGROUND: An estimated 30% of women worldwide experience intimate partner violence (IPV) during their lifetime. Exposure to IPV is associated with poor health outcomes and the prevalence of violence may be higher amongst women seeking healthcare. Existing evidence from the Arab region is limited. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of prevalence and health outcomes of domestic violence (IPV or violence from a family member) in clinical populations in Arab countries.

METHODS: Using terms related to domestic violence, Arab countries, and date limit > year 2000, we searched seven databases: Medline, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Web of Science: core collection, IBSS, Westlaw, IMEMR. We included observational studies reporting estimates of prevalence or health outcomes of domestic violence amongst women aged > 15 years, recruited while accessing healthcare in Arab countries. Studies that collected data on/after 1st January 2000 and were published in English, Arabic or French were included. Title/abstract screening, full text screening, quality assessment and data extraction were carried out. Extracted data were summarised and meta-analysis was performed where appropriate.

RESULTS: 6341 papers were screened and 41 papers (29 studies) met inclusion criteria. Total 19,101 participants from 10 countries were represented in the data. Meta-analysis produced pooled prevalence estimates of lifetime exposure to any type of IPV of 73·3% (95% CI 64·1-81·6), physical IPV 35·6% (95% CI 24·4-47·5), sexual IPV 22% (95% CI 13·3-32) and emotional/psychological IPV 49·8% (95% CI 37·3-62·3). Domestic violence (IPV or family violence) exposure was associated with increased odds of adverse health outcomes: depression OR 3·3 (95% CI 1·7-6·4), sleep problems OR 3·2 (95% CI 1·5-6·8), abortion OR 3·5 (95% CI 1·2-10·2), pain OR 2·6 (95% CI 1·6-4·1) and hypertension OR 1·6 (95% CI 1·2-2·0).

CONCLUSIONS: Domestic violence is common amongst women seeking healthcare in Arab countries. Exposure to domestic violence is associated with several poor health outcomes. Further research into domestic violence in the Arab world is required.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Systematic review protocol was registered on PROSPERO: CRD42017071415 .

Original languageEnglish
Article number315
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2019


  • Domestic violence
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Violence against women
  • Spouse abuse
  • Arab
  • Arabic
  • Middle East
  • Health
  • Healthcare


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