USPSTF Report Misleads on Abuse during Pregnancy

Stop Abusive and Violent Environments
July 3, 2012

The United States Preventive Services Task Force has released draft recommendations on screening for intimate partner violence (IPV) in healthcare settings. Regarding abuse during pregnancy, the USPSTF report states:

“In another study, a range of 1.3 to 4.6 percent of pregnant women reported abuse during the pregnancy.” (no citation given)

This is a one-sided and misleading statement, because studies of IPV during pregnancy find that women perpetrate more IPV than they receive during this time:

1. Charles and Perreira reported in a study of 2,310 socially disadvantaged US mothers and fathers participating in the Fragile Families study, that 8.2% of women and 1.2% of men perpetrated some form of IPV during the pregnancy. (Charles, P., & Perreira, K. M. (2007). Intimate partner violence during pregnancy and 1-year post-partum. Journal of Family Violence, 22(7), 609-619.)

2. Kan and Feinberg assessed IPV using the comprehensive Conflict Tactics Scales–Revised in a sample of 168 expectant couples predominantly recruited through antenatal classes, and reported 30% of women and 18% of men had perpetrated an act of IPV in the past year. (Kan, M. L., & Feinberg, M. E. (2010). Measurement and correlates of intimate partner violence among expectant first-time parents. Violence and Victims, 25 32-44.)

3. Halford et al conducted Australian research on intimate partner violence in couples seeking relationship education for the transition to parenthood. The researchers found that in 19% of couples, both partners perpetrated IPV, in 12% only the woman was a perpetrator, and in 3% only the man had perpetrated IPV. (Halford, W. K., Petch, J., Creedy, D. K., & Gamble, J. (2011). Intimate partner violence in couples seeking relationship education for the transition to parenthood. Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 10(2), 152-168.)

To submit a comment on the USPSTF report, click here:

The deadline for comments is July 10, 2012.