To assess the prevalence and current suffering of experienced abuse in healthcare, to present the socio-demographic background for women with a history of abuse in healthcare and to assess the association between abuse in healthcare and selected obstetric characteristics.Design.
Routine antenatal care in six European countries.Population.
In total 6923 pregnant women.Methods.
Cross-tabulation and Pearson's chi-square was used to study prevalence and characteristics for women reporting abuse in healthcare. Associations with selected obstetric factors were estimated using multiple logistic regression analysis.Main outcome measures.
Abuse in healthcare, fear of childbirth and preference for birth by cesarean section.Results.
One in five pregnant women attending routine antenatal care reported some lifetime abuse in healthcare. Prevalence varied significantly between the countries. Characteristics for women reporting abuse in healthcare included a significantly higher prevalence of other forms of abuse, economic hardship and negative life events as well as a lack of social support, symptoms of post-traumatic stress and depression. Among nulliparous women, abuse in healthcare was associated with fear of childbirth, adjusted odds ratio 2.25 (95% CI 1.23–4.12) for severe abuse in healthcare. For multiparous women only severe current suffering from abuse in healthcare was significantly associated with fear of childbirth, adjusted odds ratio 4.04 (95% CI 2.08–7.83). Current severe suffering from abuse in healthcare was significantly associated with the wish for cesarean section, and counselling for fear of childbirth for both nulli- and multiparous women.Conclusion.
Abuse in healthcare among women attending routine antenatal care is common and for women with severe current suffering from abuse in healthcare, this is associated with fear of childbirth and a wish for cesarean section.