Document Type

Article

Department

Obstetrics and Gynaecology (East Africa)

Abstract

Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) before and during pregnancy is associated with a broad range of adverse health outcomes. Describing the extent and the evolution of IPV is a crucial step in developing interventions to reduce the health impact of IPV. The objectives are to study the prevalence of psychological abuse, as well as physical & sexual violence, and to provide insight into the evolution of IPV 12 months before and during pregnancy.

Methods: Between June 2010 and October 2012, a cross-sectional study was conducted in 11 antenatal care clinics in Belgium. Consenting pregnant women were asked to complete a questionnaire (available in Dutch, French and English) in a separate room. Ethical clearance was obtained in all participating hospitals.

Results: The overall percentage of IPV was 14.3% (95% CI: 12.7 - 16.0) 12 months before pregnancy and 10.6% (95% CI: 9.2 - 12.1) during pregnancy. Physical partner violence before as well as during pregnancy was reported by 2.5% (95% CI: 1.7 - 3.3) of the respondents (n = 1894), sexual violence by 0.9% (95% CI 0.5 - 1.4), and psychological abuse by 14.9% (95% CI: 13.3 - 16.7). Risk factors identified for IPV were being single or divorced, having a low level of education, and choosing another language than Dutch to fill out the questionnaire. The adjusted analysis showed that physical partner violence (aOR 0.35, 95% CI: 0.22 - 0.56) and psychological partner abuse (aOR 0.7, 95% CI: 0.63 - 0.79) were significantly lower during pregnancy compared to the period of 12 months before pregnancy. The difference between both time periods is greater for physical partner violence (65%) compared to psychological partner abuse (30%). The analysis of the frequency data showed a similarly significant evolution for physical partner violence and psychological partner abuse, but not for sexual violence.

Conclusion: The IPV prevalence rates in our study are slightly lower than what can be found in other Western studies, but even so IPV is to be considered a prevalent problem before and during pregnancy. We found evidence, however, that physical partner violence and psychological partner abuse are significantly lower during pregnancy.

Publication

BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth

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