239590 Prevalence and Complications of Intimate Partner Abuse during Pregnancy

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 8:50 AM

Sarah Desmarais, PhD , Department of Community and Family Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Robert Lucio, PhD , Department of Community and Family Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Ngozichukwuka Agu, MBBS , Department of Community and Family Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Patti Janssen, PhD , School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Background: The risks to maternal and child health associated with physical violence during pregnancy are well-documented (El Kady et al., 2005; Janssen et al., 2003; Lipsky et al., 2004). However, physical, sexual and psychological abuse often co-occur (Coker et al., 2002). This study examined the prevalence and complications of psychological, physical, and sexual abuse during pregnancy.

Methods: We recruited 100 women from an adult tertiary care hospital (M=2.01 months postpartum, SD=1.32) to participate in semi-structured interviews conducted by one of two female research assistants. The majority of women were Caucasian (71%), and mean age was 32.47 years (SD = 4.97). Ninety-five women indicated they were in a relationship with the father of the baby, and 41 reported they already had children.

Results: Prevalence of abuse reported on the Conflict Tactics Scale-Revised (Straus et al., 1996) was high, but generally low in severity: 70% reported some form of abuse during pregnancy. Psychological abuse was most common (68% overall: 68% minor, 12% severe), followed by physical and sexual abuse (12% overall: 12% minor, 2% severe) abuse. Only 3% reported physical injury (2% minor, 1% severe). Forty-one women reported pregnancy complication (e.g., anemia, infection, abruption). Analyses revealed associations between physical and sexual (p<.001), but not psychological abuse. Physical and sexual abuse (ps=.050) and injury (p=.035) were associated with pregnancy complications. As the types of abuse experienced increased, so did the likelihood of pregnancy complications (p=.032).

Conclusions: Abuse during pregnancy is common and, even when minor, is associated with adverse maternal and child outcomes.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related nursing
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Compare the prevalence of psychological, physical and sexual abuse during pregnancy. 2. Differentiate the effects of psychological, physical and sexual abuse during pregnancy on maternal and child outcomes.

Keywords: Family Violence, Perinatal Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a forensic psychologist with postdoctoral training population and public health and have expertise in the area of family violence.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.