A Territory-wide Survey on Intimate Partner Violence among Pregnant Women in Hong Kong Abstract

A TIWARI, KL CHAN, D FONG, WC LEUNG, DA BROWNRIDGE, H LAM, B WONG, CM LAM, F CHAU, A CHAN, KB CHEUNG, PC HO

Objectives:
To report the prevalence and type of intimate partner violence victimisation and examine socioeconomic influences on intimate partner violence among pregnant women in Hong Kong.

Methods:
This survey was carried out in the antenatal clinics in seven public hospitals across six clusters in Hong Kong. A total of 3245 pregnant women participated in this study. The Abuse Assessment Screen and socio-demographic questionnaires were administered face-to-face to each of the respondents when they attended antenatal clinics between 32 and 36 weeks of gestation.

Results:
A total of 3245 pregnant women, with a mean age of 30.8 (standard deviation, 4.8) years, were recruited. Most of them were Chinese (96.5%) and married (97.3%). Just over one-third (36.3%) had a monthly household income of less than $15 000 and approximately half (44.4%) were in need of financial assistance. Unplanned pregnancy was reported by 35.3% of the women and about 7% had had conflicts with their in-laws in the previous 12 months. Intimate partner violence victimisation in the preceding 12 months was reported by 296 (9.1%) women, and since becoming pregnant by 212 (6.5%) women. Of those abused in the past year, 216 (73%) reported experiencing psychological abuse only and 80 (27%) reported physical and/or sexual abuse. Forty-six (57.5%) women in the physical and/or sexual abuse group also reported psychological abuse. Before adjusting for the effects of socio-demographic factors, the risk of being abused by an intimate partner varied across the clusters (p<0.01). However, after controlling for the socio-demographic factors of being in debt, in need of financial assistance, having an unplanned pregnancy and conflict with in-laws, differences across the clusters were not observed (p=0.07).

Conclusion:
In this first territory-wide survey, evidence was found of intimate partner violence victimisation among local pregnant women and socio-economic influences on intimate partner violence were identified. This underscores the importance of screening women for intimate partner violence during pregnancy with special attention being given to those with known risk factors.

Hong Kong J Gynaecol Obstet Midwifery 2007; 7:7-15

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