Interpersonal conflict and physical violence during the childbearing year

Soc Sci Med. 1994 Sep;39(6):781-7. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(94)90039-6.


Reducing physical abuse directed at women by male partners is one of the nation's Year 2000 health objectives. An important target group for achieving this health objective is pregnant women. The present study examines the frequency, severity, perpetrators and psychosocial correlates of violence during the childbearing year. A panel of 275 women were interviewed 3 times during pregnancy and at 6 months postpartum. Moderate or severe violence was somewhat more common during the postpartum period than during the prenatal period--19% of women reported experiencing moderate or severe violence prenatally, compared to 25% in the postpartum period. For partner-perpetrated violence, being better educated was associated with increased risk of violence as was having had a sex partner who ever shot drugs; being older, having a confidant and having social support from friends were significant protective factors. For violence perpetrated by someone other than a male partner, having a confidant was a significant protective factor. Obstetric care providers who routinely come in contact with pregnant women, as well as emergency department staff, need to be systematically screening for violence against women. Efforts to enhance women's social support networks should be included in primary and secondary prevention programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Personality Assessment
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy / psychology
  • Pregnancy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Support
  • Spouse Abuse / prevention & control
  • Spouse Abuse / psychology
  • Spouse Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Violence*