Intimate Partner Violence. The gynaecologist’s perspective.

Document Type



Obstetrics and Gynaecology (East Africa)


Intimate partner violence (IPV) is an important public health problem, which has been extensively studied all over the world, yet Belgian data are limited. IPV remains a taboo resulting in denial and underreporting. For an obstetrician-gynaecologist (OB/GYN), IPV, committed by a male partner to a woman, is of particular interest, because of its negative impact on women’s and children’s health. In Belgium there are few data on IPV and guidelines for OB/GYN are missing.

In a multi-centered survey surveillance study which was carried out among pregnant women attending 5 large hospitals in the province of East Flanders, the lifetime prevalence of IPV was estimated to be 10.1% and the period prevalence during pregnancy and/or in the year preceding pregnancy 3.4%. In our highly medicalised society, only 19.2% and 6.6% of the victims of physical and sexual abuse respectively sought medical care. Routine screening for IPV by a general practitioner or OB/GYN was found to be largely acceptable.

In a questionnaire-based Knowledge, Attitude, and Practice survey among OB/GYN in Flanders, OB/GYN prove unfamiliar with IPV and largely underestimate the extent of the problem. Merely 6.8% of the respondents ever received any education on IPV. They refute the incentive of universal screening, even during pregnancy and one of the major barriers is fear of offending patients. Physician education was found to be the strongest predictor of a positive attitude towards screening and of current screening practices.

Hence, there is a definite need to improve women’s awareness regarding abuse and to endorse physician training on IPV.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Facts Views Vis Obgyn