Intimate partner violence and psychosocial health, a cross-sectional study in a pregnant population



The objective of this paper is to explore whether IPV 12 months before and/or during pregnancy is associated with poor psychosocial health.


From June 2010 to October 2012, a cross-sectional study was conducted in 11 antenatal care clinics in Belgium. Consenting pregnant women were asked to complete a questionnaire on socio-demographics, psychosocial health and violence in a separate room. Overall, 2586 women were invited to participate and we were able to use data from 1894 women (73.2 %) for analysis. Ethical clearance was obtained in all participating hospitals.


We found a significant correlation between IPV and poor psychosocial health: within the group of women who reported IPV, 53.2 % (n = 118) had poor psychosocial health, as compared to 21 % (n = 286) in the group of women who did not report IPV (P < 0.001).

Lower psychosocial health scores were associated with increased odds of reporting IPV (aOR 1.55; 95 % CI 1.39–1.72), with adjustments made for the language in which the questionnaire was filled out, civil/marital status, education and age. In other words, a decrease of 10 points on the psychosocial health scale (total of 140) increased the odds of reporting IPV by 55 %.

When accounting for the 6 psychosocial health subscales, the analysis revealed that all subscales (depression, anxiety, self-esteem, mastery, worry and stress) are strongly correlated to reporting IPV. However, when accounting for all subscales simultaneously in a logistic regression model, only depression (aOR 0.87; 95 % CI 0.84–0.91) and stress (aOR 0.85; 95 % CI 0.77–095) remained significantly associated with IPV. The association between overall psychosocial health and IPV remained significant after adjusting for socio-demographic status.

Our research corroborated that IPV and psychosocial health are strongly associated. Due to the limitations of our study design, we believe that future research is needed to deepen understanding of the multitude of factors involved in the complex interactions between IPV and psychosocial health.
Keywords: Intimate partner violence; Abuse; Pregnancy; Psychosocial health

Authors & affiliation: 
An-Sofie Van Parys1*, Ellen Deschepper2, Kristien Michielsen1, Anna Galle1, Kristien Roelens1, Marleen Temmerman1 and Hans Verstraelen3 Author details 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, International Centre for Reproductive Health, Ghent University, De Pintelaan 185, UZP 114, 9000 Ghent, Belgium. 2Department of Public Health, Biostatistics Unit, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium. 3Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.
Published In: 
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2015, 15:278 doi:10.1186/s12884-015-0710-1
Publication date: 
Wednesday, November 11, 2015