Prevalence of domestic violence when midwives routinely enquire in pregnancy

BJOG. 2004 May;111(5):441-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2004.00108.x.


Objective: To assess the prevalence of domestic violence in pregnancy when midwives are trained to enquire about it routinely.

Design: A cross sectional study during a period after midwives had been trained to routinely enquire about it and a retrospective case note survey at an earlier period.

Setting: The maternity services of Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Hospital Trust in South London.

Sample: Women aged 16 and over booking for maternity care between 14th September 1998 and 21st January 1999.

Methods: Midwives were required to routinely enquire about domestic violence at booking, 34 weeks of gestation and postpartum (within 10 days) using a series of structured questions.

Main outcome measures: The lifetime and annual rates of domestic violence. The prevalence of domestic violence in pregnancy.

Results: The prevalence of domestic violence in pregnancy was 1.8% at booking, 5.8% at 34 weeks of gestation and 5.0% at 10 days postpartum. Eight hundred and ninety-two women were asked about domestic violence on at least one occasion, of whom 22 (2.5%) reported domestic violence in pregnancy. Two hundred and sixty-five maternity notes were reviewed for the retrospective case note survey and one (0.37%) case of domestic violence in pregnancy was identified. Routine questioning increased the rate of detection of domestic violence by 2.1% (95% CI = 0.1-3.4%; P= 0.03). The lifetime prevalence of domestic violence was 13%, and 6.4% in the previous 12 months.

Conclusions: Routine enquiry for domestic violence can increase the rate of detection in maternity settings, thereby providing an opportunity for women to access help early.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Domestic Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • London / epidemiology
  • Maternal Health Services
  • Middle Aged
  • Midwifery
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies