Prevalence and associations of partner abuse in women attending general practice: a cross-sectional survey

Aust N Z J Public Health. 2002 Oct;26(5):437-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-842x.2002.tb00344.x.


Objective: To determine the prevalence and socio-demographic associations of physical, emotional and sexual abuse by a partner or ex-partner for women attending Australian general practices.

Method: In 1996, women attending 20 randomly chosen Brisbane inner south region general practices were screened for a history of partner abuse using a self-report questionnaire. Multivariate analyses were conducted on the data, using presence of abuse or not adjusting for cluster effect to obtain prevalence rate ratios for socio-demographic background data and history of violence in the family of origin.

Results: Thirty-seven per cent (CI 31.0-42.4) of the survey participants (n = 1,836, response rate 78.5%) admitted to having ever experienced abuse in an adult intimate relationship. One in four women (23.3%) had ever experienced physical abuse, one in three (33.9%) emotional abuse and one in 10 (10.6%) sexual abuse. Abused women were 64.1 (Cl 44.4-94.1) times more likely to have ever been afraid of any partner than non-abused women. Of women in current relationships (n = 1,344), 8.0% self-reported physical or emotional or sexual abuse in the past 12 months and 1.5% all three types of abuse. Associations of abuse included being younger (< 60 years), separated or divorced, having a history of child abuse or domestic violence between their parents.

Conclusion: Partner abuse is very common in women attending general practices and clinicians need to be alert to possible indications of partner abuse (age, marital status, past history of abuse).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Domestic Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Family Practice*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Queensland / epidemiology
  • Self Disclosure
  • Sex Offenses / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Class
  • Surveys and Questionnaires