Worldwide prevalence of intimate partner violence in pregnancy. A systematic review and meta-analysis

Rosario M. Román-Gálvez, Sandra Martín-Peláez*, Borja M. Fernández-Félix, Javier Zamora, Khalid S. Khan, Aurora Bueno-Cavanillas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
35 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) affects outcomes of mothers and their offspring. This systematic review collated the worldwide literature on the prevalence rates of different types of IPV in pregnancy. Methods: Two reviewers independently identified cross sectional and cohort studies of IPV prevalence in pregnancy in online databases (PubMed, WOS and Scopus), selected and extracted data [participants' country, study quality, measurement tool (validation and purpose) and rates of IPV in pregnancy]. We considered a high quality study if it had a prospective design, an adequate sampling method, a sample size estimation, a response rate > 90%, a contemporary ascertainment of IPV in the index pregnancy, and a well-developed detailed IPV tool. We performed random effects meta-analysis and explored reasons for heterogeneity of rates. Results: One hundred fifty-five studies were included, of which 44 (28%) met two-thirds of the quality criteria. Worldwide prevalence of physical (126 studies, 220,462 participants), psychological (113 studies, 189,630 participants) and sexual (98 studies, 155,324 participants) IPV in pregnancy was 9.2% (95% CI 7.7–11.1%, I2 95.9%), 18.7% (15.1–22.9%, I2 98.2%), 5.5% (4.0–7.5%, I2 93.4%), respectively. Where several types of IPV were reported combined, the prevalence of any kind of IPV (118 studies, 124,838 participants) was 25.0% (20.3, 30.5%, I2 98.6%). IPV rates varied within and between continents, being the highest in Africa and the lowest in Europe (p < 0.001). Rates also varied according to measurement purpose, being higher for diagnosis than for screening, in physical (p = 0.022) and sexual (p = 0.014) IPV. Conclusions: IPV prevalence in pregnancy varies across countries, with one-quarter of mothers exposed on average globally. Routine systematic antenatal detection should be applied worldwide. Systematic Review Registration: identifier: CRD42020176131.

Original languageEnglish
Article number738459
JournalFrontiers in public health
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
KSK was a Distinguished Investigator funded by the Beatriz Galindo (senior modality) Program grant given to the University of Granada by the Spanish Ministry of Education.

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2021 Román-Gálvez, Martín-Peláez, Fernández-Félix, Zamora, Khan and Bueno-Cavanillas.


  • domestic violence
  • intimate partner violence
  • pregnancy
  • prenatal care
  • prevalence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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