Cumulative lifetime violence severity, social determinants and anxiety in a national sample of Canadian men

BMC Psychiatry. 2022 Apr 14;22(1):265. doi: 10.1186/s12888-022-03865-8.


BACKGROUND: Despite anxiety disorders being the ninth leading cause of disability and associated with social inequities, little attention has been given to how intersections among social determinants of health and chronic stressors such as cumulative lifetime violence affect the likelihood of experiencing anxiety disorders. Our purpose was to explore the relationships among cumulative lifetime violence severity as target and perpetrator, social determinants of health and generalized anxiety disorder in Canadian men.

METHODS: Using a community sample of 592 Canadian men who self-identified as having experienced violence, we developed and tested an evidence-based model of generalized anxiety disorder including indicators of cumulative lifetime violence, gender, social location, socio-economic disparity, personal resources and other chronic stressors using logistic regression.

RESULTS: Most men (76.4%, n = 452) reported experiences as both target and perpetrator. The model accounted for 50.8% of the variance in anxiety severity χ2 (8) = 264.43, p = .000). The prevalence of probable generalized anxiety disorder was 30.9%, a rate higher than that found among Canadian men in general in the same period. Remarkably, the likelihood of generalized anxiety disorder increased by a factor of 5.30 for each increase of 1 in cumulative lifetime violence severity, and six-fold for feeling overwhelmed by demands of everyday life (aOR = 6.26). Masculine discrepancy stress, having been born in Canada, unemployment, and food insecurity also contributed significantly to increasing the likelihood of generalized anxiety disorder. Both social support and mastery had significant aORs < 1, suggesting possible protective effects. Together these findings delineate characteristics and social determinants that may heighten vulnerability to generalized anxiety disorder and influence its progression among men who have experienced lifetime violence.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings are the first evidence that Canadian men with lifetime violence histories are a sub-group disproportionately affected by chronic stressors and socio-economic disparities and that together the presence and/or severity of these factors increases their vulnerability to generalized anxiety disorder. Our results highlight the importance of strengths-based trauma- and violence-informed approaches to care, including practical resources to reduce the stress of everyday life, improve social support, and reinforce personal control and choice.

PMID:35421946 | DOI:10.1186/s12888-022-03865-8