Rapid Review on COVID-19, Substance Use, and Intimate Partner Violence

This year, with funding support from the CIHR’s COVID-19 and Mental Health Initiative, the Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health partnered with the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and AddictionWomen’s Shelters Canada, and the Justice Institute of BC to co-develop materials and resources for first responders, and intimate partner violence (IPV) and substance use workers.

Based on a rapid review, infographics and an info sheet were created for service providers in English and French, along with an academic report, and a list of grey literature reports and resources.

Findings about the importance of linking responses on IPV and substance use have been shared in a number of conferences, including as a Keynote Address at the Ending Violence Association of British Columbia’s Building on Resilience training forum. Most recently, an article was published in the journal Sexes that documented their results.

Brabete AC, Wolfson L, Stinson J, Poole N, Allen S, Greaves L. Exploring the Linkages between Substance Use, Natural Disasters, Pandemics, and Intimate Partner Violence against Women: A Rapid Review in the Context of COVID-19. Sexes. 2021; 2(4):509-522. https://doi.org/10.3390/sexes2040040


Rates of intimate partner violence (IPV) and substance use have risen during the COVID-19 pandemic, with potentially enduring effects on women’s health. A rapid review was conducted on IPV and women’s substance use in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rapid review explored two separate research questions with a view to integrate the literature related to: (1) containment, social isolation, pandemics, disasters, lockdowns, and IPV; and (2) the relationships between substance use and IPV. Two different searches for each question were conducted between May and October 2020 and n = 47 articles were included. Women experience multiple physical and mental health consequences related to IPV that can be exacerbated by public health crises such as pandemics and disasters. Perpetrators may use these events as a tactic to threaten, isolate, or use coercive control. Similar tactics are reported in the complex relationship between IPV and substance use, where substance use can accompany IPV and/or be used as a coping mechanism for survivors. The findings highlight long standing women’s health concerns made further visible during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional research is needed to identify actions required to reduce gender inequities and harms associated with IPV and substance use, and to adequately tailor and prepare effective responses in the context of future public health crises

Click here to read the open access research report.

Leave a Reply