Intimate partner violence, prenatal stress, and substance use among pregnant Black women

Public Health Nurs. 2021 Jul;38(4):555-563. doi: 10.1111/phn.12878. Epub 2021 Feb 15.


Objectives: We examine the mediation effects of prenatal stress on the associations between intimate partner violence (IPV) experience and the most common forms of substance use (i.e., cigarette smoking, alcohol drinking, and marijuana use) among pregnant Black women.

Design: Cross-sectional.

Sample: Black women (N = 203) from metropolitan Detroit, Michigan and Columbus, Ohio, were recruited between 8 and 29 weeks of gestation.

Measurements: Women were asked about IPV experience during 12 months prior to the start of the pregnancy, perceived stress during pregnancy, and substance use during pregnancy.

Results: Intimate partner violence prior to pregnancy was positively associated with cigarette smoking and marijuana use but not with alcohol use during pregnancy. IPV prior to pregnancy was also positively associated with higher levels of perceived stress during pregnancy after controlling for covariates. Path analysis indicated that IPV had an indirect effect on marijuana use through perceived stress (standardized indirect effect = 0.026, SE = 0.020, 95% CI = 0.005-0.064, p =.017).

Conclusions: Perceived stress during pregnancy partially mediated the association between previous experience of IPV and marijuana use among pregnant Black women. Interventions are needed to reduce IPV that would lower stress during pregnancy and consequently substance abuse to improve pregnancy outcomes and maternal and newborn health.

Keywords: Black/African American; intimate partner violence; perceived stress; pregnant women; substance use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intimate Partner Violence*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Pregnant Women
  • Substance-Related Disorders*