Violent behavior in adult male schizophrenia patients is significantly associated with exposure to domestic violence during childhood, according to Dr. Clare Oakley and associates.

“As far as we are aware, this is the first time this finding has been demonstrated,” wrote Dr. Oakley, of St. Andrew’s Healthcare, Northampton, United Kingdom.

In a group of 54 adult male patients with schizophrenia aged 21-57, exposure to domestic violence was the most significant predictor of adult violence, with an odds ratio of 10.47. The OR for separation from parents was 3.75, and the OR for child abuse was 2.49. Nearly all patients who rated as the most violent were very likely to experience at least 1 type of childhood adversity, and 31% had experienced all 3.

Conduct disorder seemed to have a mediating effect on propensity toward violence in adulthood. After adjusting for substance use disorders, the OR for childhood adversity and violence was 1.90, 1.32 for violence and conduct disorder symptoms, and 1.26 for childhood adversity and conduct disorder symptoms.

“This study [emphasizes] the importance of developmental pathways to violence among men with schizophrenia. Further work is needed to advance our understanding of the complex interplay between a variety of childhood risk factors that may be [etiologically] important to the future risk of both violence and schizophrenia,” the investigators concluded.

Find the full study in Schizophrenia Research (doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2016.01.047).