Reproductive coercion and partner violence among college women

J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2015 Mar-Apr;44(2):218-27. doi: 10.1111/1552-6909.12550. Epub 2015 Feb 4.


Objective: To examine reproductive coercion and partner violence among college women.

Design: Cross-sectional, descriptive.

Setting: A large public university in the Northeast United States.

Participants: Inclusion criteria were college women age 18 to 25, enrolled either full- or part-time, English speaking, and screened positive for relationship. Data from 972 women were analyzed.

Methods: An e-mail invitation to participate in an electronic survey was sent to undergraduate and graduate female students. A web link to the informed consent and inclusion criteria were provided. Students who affirmed they met inclusion criteria could proceed to the survey. Completion of the survey implied consent.

Results: Nearly 8% of participants (n = 76) reported reproductive coercion, including pregnancy coercion, birth control sabotage, or both. Women reported more pregnancy coercion (6.8%) than birth control sabotage (3.9%). Being told not to use any birth control was the most commonly reported act (6.8%, n = 62). Of women reporting reproductive coercion (n = 76), 57% also screened for positive relationship violence (95% confidence interval [CI] [2.74, 7.29]).

Conclusion: Pregnancy coercion and birth control sabotage occur among college women, and higher rates were reported among women with histories of partner violence. In addition to screening and counseling for partner violence, college health providers should assess for reproductive coercion and tailor contraceptive counseling discussions accordingly.

Keywords: college women; intimate partner violence; reproductive coercion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Coercion*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Intimate Partner Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • New England
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Rate / trends*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sex Offenses / statistics & numerical data
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology
  • Universities
  • Young Adult