Objective: To examine the influence of socioeconomic status, education, ethnicity, and age on the prevalence of intimate partner abuse before and during pregnancy.
Design: Retrospective correlational analysis.
Setting: Data were collected at six postpartum maternity settings.
Participants: 1,004 women from six ethnic groups.
Main outcome measure: Prevalence of intimate partner violence.
Results: 15.9% of study participants reported physical abuse by their current partner and 5.2% reported abuse during pregnancy. Decreased income, not having a high school education, and ethnicity were significantly related to current abuse and abuse during pregnancy in bivariate analyses. Having less than a high school education emerged as the most significant predictor of both abuse variables in multivariate analyses. African American and Puerto Rican women had the highest incidence of abuse in their current relationship. No significant differences were found in rates of abuse during pregnancy among women from different ethnic groups.
Conclusions: The results of this analysis support the notion that abuse is most prevalent among the most disadvantaged women. However, it is not income per se, but rather the highly related variables of education and ethnicity that have the largest effect. Abuse occurs frequently among all women, warranting universal screening during health care encounters. Further research is needed to evaluate relationships between education, ethnicity, income, and abuse.