Objectives: To examine the prevalence of domestic violence (DV) and its associations with obstetric complications and psychological health in women on antenatal and postnatal wards.
Study design: A cross-sectional survey conducted in an inner-London teaching hospital. Two hundred English-speaking women aged 16 and over, were interviewed between July 2001 and April 2002. The Abuse Assessment Screen was used to assess for experiences of DV. Depression was assessed using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). The analysis of predictors of obstetric complications grouped together those known to be associated with DV.
Results: 23.5% of women had lifetime experience of DV, 3% during the current pregnancy. Women with a history of DV were significantly more likely to be single, separated or in non-cohabiting relationship and to have smoked in the year prior to and/or during pregnancy. Higher EPDS scores were significantly associated with DV, single, separated or non-cohabiting status, and obstetric complications. Both a history of DV and increased EPDS scores were significantly associated with obstetric complications after controlling for other known risk factors.
Conclusions: Domestic violence is regarded as an important risk marker for the development of obstetric complications and depressive symptomatology. This finding of itself justifies training and education of maternity health professionals to raise awareness.