The prevalence of partner violence against pregnant women is high in Spain when compared with nearby countries. An investigation into the prevalence of domestic violence against pregnant women has revealed that 22.7% endure some kind of violence; emotional, physical or sexual by their intimate partner. While 21% of women suffered emotional violence during pregnancy, 3.6% encountered physical or sexual violence.
Stella Martn de las Heras, researcher at the University of Granada and main author of the study said, "Until now there had been no studies of this kind in Spain, and consequently the magnitude of this problem in our midst was unknown. The consequences, however, are very serious, both for the health of the mother and that of the fetus. With these figures, detection of violence should be routinely included in pregnancy management, and protocols for action should be established where necessary. The involvement and motivation of health professionals is crucial."
Midwives gathered data from a sample of 779 women who gave birth in 15 state hospitals in Andalusia. Intimate partner violence was discovered using two internationally standardized instruments, the Abuse Assessment Screen (AAS) and the Index of Spouse Abuse (ISA). AAS found that 7.7% of pregnant women were subjected to some form of violence, while using the ISA this figure rose to 21.3%. The mean percentage found in this study (22.7%) was obtained by joining together the results from the AAS and ISA, without duplicating the cases discovered. The divergence in the two methods lies in the manner in which questions are asked. The AAS is based on general questions, where women have to self-define as abused,; while with the ISA method, women respond to imagined everyday life experiences.
The study also looked at the sociodemographic factors like age, education, occupation, nationality, type of relationship and cohabitation, and support in their environment that could be linked to violence during pregnancy. Martn de las Heras said, "Younger women are no more likely to be subject to violence during pregnancy. Neither are women with foreign (not Spanish) nationality, who in our study came from Latin America and North Africa."
The results are published in the journal 'Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica'.