An international rapid review of the needs and an indirect estimate of the national prevalence of women who use substances and endure domestic violence.

Wednesday, 23 November, 2022 - 16:50 to 18:20


According to the World Health Organisation, violence against women is a major public health problem and a violation of women's human rights. This project aimed to understand the unique needs internationally of women who experience both substance use and domestic violence and to provide the first estimate of the hidden prevalence nationally in Ireland in the past year.

A rapid literature review was used. A rapid review utilises a systematic methodology and adheres to the Preferred Reporting Items for SysteMAmatic reviews checklist (PRISMA). Indirect estimation techniques using benchmarks and multipliers as recommended by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction were used for the prevalence estimation.

A total of 4,136 articles were originally retrieved from the database. Following further detailed screening 15 articles were eligible for inclusion. The review found that the women suffer depression and post-traumatic stress. They have additional challenges with infectious diseases from HIV/AIDS to Hepatitis. Motherhood, pregnancy and loss of care of children is a constant fear and a barrier to accessing services.

A national minimum multiplier of 3% (95% CI of 2.15% to 3.85% derived from a general population survey was applied. The benchmark was derived from the EMCDDA general population survey on substance use. Estimates of the minimum scale of the hidden prevalence revealed that in Ireland in 2020 at least 11,000 women suffered the dual challenges of both hidden domestic violence and personal substance use.

Women who endure violence in their homes and who use substances are unseen and their needs unknown. They are forced to experience a duality of secrecy for the protection of themselves and their children. This research provides the first minimum estimate of national prevalence and the review provided evidence on the need for accessible, targeted and specific interventions.


Presentation files

23 A4 1650 Catherine Comiskey_v1.0.pdf1.13 MBDownload



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