A report issued by the World Health Organization on Thursday suggests one out of every seven murders around the world is a result of domestic violence. Experts believe numbers could be even higher, considering at least a fifth of homicide reported in the study did not include the relationship of the victim and offender.

"These findings have important implications for efforts to prevent intimate partner homicides and the need for further research...Prevention of homicide of women and men by intimate partners is important," said Dr. Rosana Norman with the Queensland Children's Medical Research Institute at the University of Queensland, Australia.

"Research into the complex issues related to intimate relationships can only be undertaken if improved data are collected in a systematic fashion," added Norman, who wasn't involved with this study.

A team of researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the South African Medical Research Council analyzed 118 studies that included data on 492,340 homicide cases from 66 countries.

Results of their examination determined that 38.6 percent of all murder cases involving a female victim were caused by a domestic partner, compared to 6.3 percent of all male murder cases.

"Our results underscore that women are disproportionately vulnerable to violence and murder by an intimate partner, and their needs have been neglected for far too long," stated Dr Heidi Stöckl from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in the UK.

"Such homicides are often the ultimate outcome of a failed societal, health, and criminal justice response to intimate partner violence."

Among female victims in homicide cases, rates were highest in southeast Asia with 58.8 percent, followed by the Americas with 40.5 percent and the African continent with 40.1 percent.

Homicide cases where a man was the victim were reportedly more prevalent in high-income European countries with 6.3 percent, followed by Africa with 4.1 percent.

"More needs to be done, particularly to increase investment in intimate partner violence prevention, to support women experiencing intimate partner violence (most women killed by a partner have been in long-term abusive relationships), and to control gun ownership for people with a history of violence," Stöckl added.

Source: Devries K, Rotstein A, Abrahams, Watts C, Moreno C, Stöckl H. The global prevalence of intimate partner homicide: a systematic review. The Lancet. 2013.