To explore the prevalence of intimate partner abuse during pregnancy and to examine the effect and cumulative effects of different types of intimate partner abuse on health-related quality of life.
A retrospective, cross-sectional, comparative design.
Three postnatal wards of a university-affiliated regional public hospital in Hong Kong.
A community-based sample (n=1200) of postnatal women.
The women were identified as abused or non-abused using the Abuse Assessment Screen Questionnaire (AAS), and various types of abuse were elaborated using the Revised Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS-2). The Medical Outcomes Study Short-form 36 Health Survey (SF-36) measured the health-related quality of life.
The prevalence rate of intimate partner abuse during pregnancy was 134 out of 1200 (11.2%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 9.4-13.0%). They consisted of an only psychologically abused group (32.1%, 95% CI 24.2-40.0%), an only physically abused group (20.9%, 95% CI 14.0-27.8%), and a combined psychological and physically abused group (47.0%, 95% CI 38.5-55.5%). Over half of the women (53.0%, 95% CI 44.5-61.5%) experienced more than one type of abuse. Women who had experienced different types of intimate partner abuse were associated with lower scores in the majority of domains and the subscales of the SF-36 (p<0.05), and there was a cumulative effect of abuse on the health-related quality of life of the women.
The problem of intimate partner abuse during pregnancy is similar to most Western countries, and the negative effect of different types of such abuse on the health-related quality of life over time seems to be cumulative.
Implications for practice -
The relatively poor health-related quality of life of the abused women highlights the necessity of developing a checklist or a structured questionnaire that will assist in the detection of different types and combinations of intimate partner abuse, and that will be helpful in the development of more effective preventive interventions or programmes.