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Intimate partner violence among pregnant women reporting to the emergency department: findings from a nationwide sample
  1. Vithya Murugan1,
  2. Katherine J Holzer2,
  3. Mirvat Termos1,
  4. Michael Vaughn1
  1. 1 School of Social Work, College for Public Health and Social Justice at Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA
  2. 2 Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Vithya Murugan, College for Public Health and Social Justice, Saint Louis University, St Louis, MO 63103, USA; vithya.murugan{at}


Objective Intimate partner violence (IPV) describes physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. During pregnancy, IPV has substantial negative implications for maternal and child health. The aim of the present study was to better understand the prevalence and sociodemographic and psychiatric correlates of IPV among pregnant females in the emergency department (ED).

Methods Using the 2016 Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS), logistic regression was employed to examine the relationship between IPV during pregnancy, sociodemographic factors, substance abuse and mental health disorders.

Results Bivariate analyses indicated that approximately 0.06% of pregnant women who visited EDs in 2016 were coded as experiencing abuse by a spouse or partner. Pregnant women abused by a spouse or partner were more likely to have a diagnosis of each of the disorders coded as complicating pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium examined in this study, including alcohol use (0.77%, aOR 8.38, 95% CI 2.80 to 29.50), drug use (2.26%, aOR 3.49, 95% CI 1.60 to 6.15), tobacco use (11.05%, aOR 1.90, 95% CI 1.34 to 2.54) and general mental disorders (4.13%, aOR 2.64, 95% CI 1.60 to 4.79).

Conclusion Screening for IPV in EDs, especially among at-risk women identified in this study, may lead to referrals and coordination of care that could reduce the violence and improve maternal and child health outcomes.

  • counseling
  • sexual health
  • reproductive health services

Data availability statement

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  • Contributors VM conceptualised the study and led the writing of the manuscript. KJH conducted the analysis and drafted the methods and the results sections. MT conducted the literature review and drafted the introduction section. MV critically revised the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.