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The epidemiology and characteristics of stalking

Dressing, Harald; Kuehner, Christine; Gass, Peter

Current Opinion in Psychiatry: July 2006 - Volume 19 - Issue 4 - p 395–399
doi: 10.1097/01.yco.0000228760.95237.f5
Services research and outcomes

Purpose of review This article summarizes major results in the field of epidemiology and characteristics of stalking, as published in literature between 2003 and October 2005.

Recent findings Although stalking had been only recently conceptualized, it soon became evident that it represents a significant social and medical problem. Community-based studies on the prevalence of stalking are scarce and predominantly from English-speaking countries. All epidemiological studies, however, revealed that stalking is a widespread phenomenon with lifetime prevalence rates of stalking victimization ranging 12–16% among women and 4–7% among men. With regard to the impact of stalking, studies suggest that stalking can cause serious economic, social, medical and psychiatric consequences. Growing evidence suggests that serious violence and even homicide may occur in the context of stalking, and research on risk assessment has yielded an improved understanding of risk factors. Research on therapy of stalkers and stalking victims is still at its beginning; however, there are some preliminary reports with encouraging results.

Summary Although there are research activities in the main fields, many basic questions still remain to be adequately addressed. Increased social and political awareness and expanded research funding are obligatory prerequisites to realize sound and well designed studies.

Central Institute of Mental Health Mannheim (ZI), University of Heidelberg, Mannheim, Germany

Correspondence to Harald Dressing MD, Central Institute of Mental Health Mannheim (ZI), J 5, D-68159 Mannheim, Germany Tel: +49 621 1703 2941; fax: +49 621 1703 2005; e-mail:

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.