The relationship between intimate partner violence and unintended pregnancy: analysis of a national sample from Colombia

Christina C Pallitto, Patricia O'Campo
International Family Planning Perspectives 2004, 30 (4): 165-73

CONTEXT: Intimate partner violence is associated with a number of reproductive and mental health problems. However, the relationship between intimate partner violence and women's ability to control their fertility has not been adequately explored, especially in developing countries.

METHODS: Data from the 2000 Demographic and Health Survey for Colombia were used in multivariate logistic regressions to explore the relationship between intimate partner violence and unintended pregnancy, which was included as a measure of fertility control. Regional differences in the relationship were also explored, and population-attributable risk estimates were calculated. The sample consisted of 3,431 ever-married women aged 15-49 who had given birth in the last five years or were currently pregnant.

RESULTS: Fifty-five percent of respondents had had at least one unintended pregnancy, and 38% had been physically or sexually abused by their current or most recent partner. Women's adjusted odds of having had an unintended pregnancy were significantly elevated if they had been physically or sexually abused (odds ratio, 1.4); the association was observed in the Atlantica and Central regions (1.7 each), but was not significant elsewhere in the country. Eliminating intimate partner violence in Colombia would result in an estimated 32,523-44,986 fewer unintended pregnancies each year.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings indicate the need to include intimate partner violence screening and treatment in reproductive health programs, to promote men's involvement in fertility control programs, and to improve the social and political response to intimate partner violence.

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