Objectives: (1) To determine and compare the prevalence of domestic violence among abortion-seeking patients with other general gynecology patients; (2) to see if a follow-up interview 6 weeks after abortion can improve the abuse disclosure rate; (3) to see if the abused victims accept direct referral to their gynecologists/social workers for help.
Methods: This is a prospective questionnaire survey in a university teaching hospital on patients seeking abortion and an approximately equal number of other general gynecology patients. Participants were interviewed by a designated project nurse in a private setting, using a structured questionnaire (Modified Abuse Assessment Screen Questionnaire) to assess the past and recent history of abuse. The interview was repeated 6 weeks after the abortion for the abortion-seeking group.
Results: Five hundred and one participants were interviewed, including 245 seeking abortion (TOP group) and 256 other general gynecology patients (non-TOP group). The lifetime prevalence of abuse in the TOP group (27.3%) was significantly higher than the non-TOP group (8.2%) (P<0.001). Repeating the interview 6 weeks after the abortion did not increase the disclosure rate. Most abused victims were unwilling to disclose their information of abuse to their gynecologists or social workers at the time of interview.
Conclusions: Domestic violence is a significant problem among the gynecology patients, particularly those seeking abortion. A single interview prior to abortion is adequately effective for screening. However, the most effective and acceptable way of helping these victims needs to be explored further.