As part of the study Nolan Zane, Manveen Dhindsa and colleagues examined data from the National Latino and Asian American Study, a National Institute of Mental Health-funded survey of 2,554 Latinos and 2,095 Asian Americans conducted between May 2002 and November 2003.
The study, the largest national survey of mental health disorders and use of psychiatric services in these ethnic groups, was led by David Takeuchi, associate dean for research at the University of Washington School of Social Work in Seattle.
It found that apart from marital distress, violence was more likely to occur if the family lacked closeness or if a spouse suffered from an anxiety disorder or stress related to acculturation into American society.
Acculturation is a process in which members of one cultural group adopt the beliefs and behaviours of another group.
"These results are quite important as they highlight that factors beyond marital distress can strongly increase chances for abuse," Zane said.
"Such information can be used to enhance therapy for batterers, as clinicians can go beyond remedying marital distress and focus on other psychological problems found to significantly impact marital abuse," Zane added.
The findings of the study will be presented at the annual meeting of the Asian American Psychological Association in San Francisco.