Personal and psychosocial predictors of psychological abuse by partners during and after pregnancy: a longitudinal cohort study in a community sample

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Abstract

Objective

To describe the incidence and risk factors of psychological intimate partner violence (IPV) during pregnancy and the first year after childbirth.

Design

Longitudinal cohort study.

Setting

Nine primary care centers in the Valencia Region (Spain).

Population

A consecutive sample of 1400 women in the first trimester of pregnancy, attending the prenatal programme in the Valencia Region of Spain in 2008, with follow-up in the third trimester of pregnancy, and at 5 and 12 months postpartum. A total of 888 women (66.5%) participated in all four phases.

Methods

A logistic regression model was fitted using generalised estimating equations to assess the effects of previous partner violence, consumption of alcohol or illicit drugs and social support on subsequent psychological partner violence.

Main outcome measure

Psychological IPV during follow-up.

Results

We observed an increase in the incidence of psychological IPV after birth, particularly at 5 months postpartum. The strongest predictor of psychological IPV was having experienced abuse 12 months before pregnancy (OR 10.46, 95%CI 2.40–45.61). Other predictors were consumption of alcohol or illicit drugs by the partner or a family member (OR3.50, 95%CI 1.38–8.85) and lack of affective social support (OR2.83, 95%CI 1.31–6.11).

Conclusions

Previous abuse and psychosocial risk factors predict partner psychological abuse after birth. Monitoring psychological IPV and effective interventions are needed not only during pregnancy but also during the postpartum period.

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