Domestic violence: prevalence and association with gynaecological symptoms

Authors


Dr S. W. Lindow, Women and Children's Hospital, Hull Royal Infirmary, Anlaby Road, Hull, HU3 2JZ, UK.

Abstract

Objective  To determine the prevalence of domestic violence in a population of women attending a gynaecology outpatient clinic in the United Kingdom and also to investigate whether women who reported domestic violence were more likely to complain of certain gynaecological symptoms.

Design  Questionnaire survey.

Setting  A gynaecology outpatient clinic in a North of England Hospital.

Sample  Nine hundred and twenty consecutive clinic attenders.

Methods  Anonymous confidential questionnaire given to women.

Main outcome measures  Disclosure of a past history of domestic violence and gynaecological complaints.

Results  Nine hundred and twenty consecutive women were included and 825 questionnaires were returned (90% response rate). The prevalence of physical abuse was 21% (171/825). Thirty-four (4%) had experienced violence in the past year. Domestic violence is three times less common in women over 50 years old. Ex-husbands (32%) and ex-boyfriends (29%) were the main perpetrators. Forty-eight percent women who had experienced physical violence also had forced sexual activity. Of the 15 presenting symptoms reported by the women, lower abdominal pain, dysmenorrhoea, dyspareunia, smear abnormalities, cancer worries and bowel symptoms were significantly more common complaints in the group who reported domestic violence. The women with domestic violence also had significantly more consultations; however, the duration of their symptoms was not significantly different.

Conclusion  The prevalence of domestic violence in a cohort of women who attended the gynaecology outpatient clinic in a North of England Hospital was 21%. Women who are subjected to domestic violence tend to have more consultations and are more likely to complain of certain symptoms.

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