A comparative study of the prevalence of domestic violence in women requesting a termination of pregnancy and those attending the antenatal clinic

BJOG. 2014 Apr;121(5):627-33. doi: 10.1111/1471-0528.12609. Epub 2014 Jan 22.


Objective: To compare the prevalence of domestic violence (DV) in women requesting antenatal care (ANC) and termination of pregnancy (TOP) in North East England.

Design: This was a cross-sectional comparative prevalence study using self-administered questionnaires, with women selected as opportunistic samples over a concurrent period.

Setting: The participants were screened anonymously and confidentially in the ANC and TOP clinics.

Sample: Pregnant women in the first trimester requesting a TOP or ANC.

Methods: The participants were screened for a history of DV using a modified version of the Abuse Assessment Screening tool.

Main outcome measures: Prevalence of DV between ANC and TOP populations, and any differences in the characteristics of the women, such as age, level of education, or marital status. We aimed to determine the reasons for requesting a TOP.

Results: There were 507 respondents, with 233 attending ANC and 274 requesting a TOP. Of the ANC population, 219 completed the questionnaire. In the TOP population, all the questionnaires were fully or partially completed. Women requesting a TOP were six times as likely to suffer physical abuse in the current relationship (5.8 versus 0.9%; χ(2) = 10.2 (2); P < 0.05), and were five times as likely to suffer emotional abuse (9.9 versus 1.8%; χ(2) = 13.6 (2); P < 0.0001), than those attending ANC. Of the 274 women requesting a TOP, only ten mentioned DV as a contributing factor.

Conclusions: There is a higher prevalence of DV in the TOP population than in the ANC population, but very few women stated that DV influenced their request for a TOP.

Keywords: Abortion; antenatal care; domestic violence; gender-based violence; pregnancy; termination of pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Domestic Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires