Interventions to reduce Domestic Abuse in Pregnancy:a Qualitative Systematic Review

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Background. Pregnant women are at an increased risk of domestic abuse, with prevalence rates of 5% to 21% during pregnancy and 13% to 21% postnatally. There is a significant threat to the health and wellbeing of the mother and baby that may lead to potential morbidity and mortality. A total of 80% of women in abusive relationships seek help at least once and, on average, seven to eight visits are made to health professionals before disclosure of abuse. Pregnant women are routinely screened for domestic abuse as part of the routine care in the UK, but we do not know what interventions work in reducing abuse in pregnancy. Recent guidelines from NICE (2008) underline the urgent need for evaluation of domestic abuse interventions.Aim. To assess the effectiveness of interventions to reduce domestic abuse in pregnancy. Method. The Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (CRD) Systematic reviews: CRD’s guidance for undertaking reviews in health care (CRD, 2008) and the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines were used to structure the review. Electronic database searches were completed in Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, Cochrane, ASSIA and PsycINFO from inception until April 2012 and data were extracted that met inclusion/exclusion criteria. All studies were critically appraised by three independent reviewers and the Cochrane ‘Risk of Bias’ methodology was used for assessment. Results. Five studies met the inclusion criteria. Counselling was found to be significant in reducing domestic abuse in two of the four studies, which used the Dutton’s 1992 empowerment model as the basis for their counselling intervention. Implications. The strength of evidence for the effectiveness of counselling is promising. Interventions based on mentoring appear to be beneficial. Further research is recommended.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-142
JournalEvidence Based Midwifery
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • Domestic abuse
  • pregnancy
  • intervention
  • prevention
  • midwives
  • systematic review
  • evidence-based midwifery


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