Objective  To evaluate the effectiveness of an empowerment intervention in reducing intimate partner violence (IPV) and improving health status.

Design  Randomised controlled trial.

Setting  Antenatal clinic in a public hospital in Hong Kong.

Sample  One hundred and ten Chinese pregnant women with a history of abuse by their intimate partners.

Methods  Women were randomised to the experimental or control group. Experimental group women received empowerment training specially designed for Chinese abused pregnant women while the control group women received standard care for abused women. Data were collected at study entry and six weeks postnatal.

Main outcomes measures  IPV [on the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS)], health-related quality of life (SF-36) and postnatal depression [Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS)].

Results  Following the training, the experimental group had significantly higher physical functioning and had significantly improved role limitation due to physical problems and emotional problems. They also reported less psychological (but not sexual) abuse, minor (but not severe) physical violence and had significantly lower postnatal depression scores. However, they reported more bodily pain.

Conclusion  An empowerment intervention specially designed for Chinese abused pregnant women was effective in reducing IPV and improving the health status of the women.