Armed Conflict, Intimate Partner Violence, and Mental Distress of Women in Northeastern Uganda: A Mixed Methods Study

Jennifer J. Mootz, Florence Muhanguzi, Brenna Greenfield, Meghan Gill, Miigis B. Gonzalez, Pavel Panko, Patrick Onyango Mangen, Milton L. Wainberg, Kaveh Khoshnood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


As global mental health research and programming proliferate, research that prioritizes women’s voices and examines marginalized women’s mental health outcomes in relation to exposure to violence at community and relational levels of the socioecological model is needed. In a mixed methods, transnational study, we examined armed conflict exposure, intimate partner violence (IPV), and depressive symptoms among 605 women in Northeastern Uganda. We used analysis of variance to test between groups of women who had experienced no IPV or armed conflict, IPV only, armed conflict only, and both; and linear regression to predict depressive symptoms. We used rapid ethnographic methods with a subsample (n = 21) to identify problem prioritization; and, to characterize women’s mental health experiences, we conducted follow up in-depth interviews (n = 15), which we analyzed with grounded theory methods. Thirty percent of the sample met the cut-off for probable major depressive disorder; women exposed to both IPV and armed conflict had significantly higher rates of depression than all other groups. While women attributed psychological symptoms primarily to IPV exposure, both past-year IPV and exposure to armed conflict were significantly associated with depressive symptoms. Women identified socioeconomic neglect as having the most impact and described three interrelated mental health experiences that contribute to thoughts of escape, including escape through suicide. Policy efforts should be interprofessional, and specialists should collaborate to advance multi-pronged interventions and gender-informed implementation strategies for women’s wellbeing. Additional online materials for this article are available on PWQ’s website at

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-471
Number of pages15
JournalPsychology of Women Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This project was supported by the NIH Research Training Grant #R25 TW009338 funded by the Fogarty International Center and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the National Institute of Mental Health funded T-32 post-Doctoral Research Fellowship Training Grant #T32 MH096724, Global Mental Health Research Fellowship: Interventions That Make A Difference.


  • common mental disorders
  • depression
  • domestic violence
  • mixed methods
  • transnational
  • war


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