Objective To determine if pregnancy intendedness is associated with physical violence, and to identify factors that modify this association.
Methods Three to 6 months after delivery, we mailed a questionnaire to a population-based sample of 12,612 mothers of infants born during 1990 and 1991 in four states. We used multiple logistic regression to compute odds ratios.
Results The state-specific prevalences (± standard error) of physical violence ranged from 3.8 ± 0.5 to 6.9 ± 0.8%; the prevalences of unwanted or mistimed pregnancies ranged from 36.9–46.3%. In each state, higher rates of physical violence were reported by women who had fewer than 12 years of education, lived in crowded conditions, participated in the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children, received no or delayed prenatal care, or were of races other than white, under 20 years old, or not married. Regardless of other attributes, women with unwanted or mistimed pregnancies reported higher rates of physical violence than women with intended pregnancies and accounted for 70% of women who reported physical violence. Overall, women with unwanted pregnancies had 4.1 (95% confidence interval 2.7–6.2) times the odds of experiencing physical violence than did women with intended pregnancies. This association was weaker for women with few social advantages than for those with more advantages.
Conclusion Physical violence toward women during the periconceptional and antenatal periods occurs in all sociodemographic groups. Women with unwanted or mistimed pregnancies are at an increased risk for violence by their partners compared with women with intended pregnancies.
Address reprint requests to: Melissa M. Adams, PhD, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,1600 Clifton Road, Division of Reproductive Health, K-23, Atlanta, GA 30333.
© 1995 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists