Intimate Partner Violence and Barriers to Prenatal Care

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Rationale: Past research has shown that intimate partner violence (IPV) is associated with less adequate access to prenatal care. However, less is known about why IPV creates challenges for accessing prenatal care, including how IPV is related to unique barriers to prenatal care.

Objective: The aim of this study is to examine the association between physical IPV around the time of pregnancy (preconception IPV, prenatal IPV, or both preconception and prenatal IPV) and (1) adequacy of prenatal care, and (2) barriers to prenatal care.

Methods: Data are from 35 sites (34 states and New York City) from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) for years 2009–2016 (n = 166,840). Adequacy of prenatal care is examined using multinomial logistic regression and measures of barriers to prenatal care are assessed using negative binomial regression and logistic regression.

Results: The findings reveal that women with IPV exposure—especially those who experience IPV both before and during pregnancy—are more likely to experience inadequate prenatal care. In addition, women with IPV exposure incur a higher rate of barriers to prenatal care, as well as several specific barriers to prenatal care including not having transportation, not being able to get time off work, being too busy, being unable to find child care, and keeping a pregnancy a secret.

Conclusions: Considering the adverse consequences of both IPV and inadequate access to prenatal care for maternal and child health, the findings of this study highlight the need for public health interventions that both reduce the prevalence of IPV and remove barriers to prenatal care for IPV-exposed women.