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Pregnancy-Associated Assault Hospitalizations: Prevalence and Risk of Hospitalized Assaults Against Women During Pregnancy (From Violence Against Women and Family Violence: Developments in Research, Practice, and Policy, 2004, Bonnie Fisher, ed. -- See NCJ-199701)

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2004
15 pages
In examining the prevalence and risk of assaults against pregnant women that required hospitalization, this study filled the gaps of previous similar research by focusing on assault-related hospitalizations from a large, population-based, multi-State hospital discharge database.
The study focused on whether the hospitalization rate for assault was higher for pregnant women than for all women of reproductive age (ages 15-49), controlling for age and severity. Secondary study aims were to quantify the prevalence of hospitalized assaults in a large population-based sample of pregnant women and to compare and contrast the patterns of assault injury mechanisms, severity, demographics, and costs. The year 1997 was selected for data collection, because it was the first complete year that perpetrator-specific codes and improved ICD-9-CM E-coding guidelines for intent were used; it also followed by 2 years the adoption of Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations hospital screening rules for domestic violence. Nonconfidential versions of statewide discharge data were received from 19 States, whose populations composed 51.9 percent of U.S. women ages 15 to 49. These 19 States represented the hospitalization experience of 36 million women who were residents of those States and 1.9 million resident births. The combined dataset encompassed complete counts from approximately 2,000 hospitals and 13 million discharges for women, of which 176,267 were injuries to women ages 15 to 49. Assaults were analyzed to present prevalence rates and rate ratios for specific subgroups. To adjust for the increased propensity of pregnant women to be hospitalized for pregnancy-related complications, assaults were re-analyzed for cases with an injury severity score of four or greater. There were 7,042 assault-related discharges. Pregnancy-associated cases composed 10 percent of all assaults against women ages 15 to 49. The study concluded that pregnant women suffered high rates of assault, not because they were pregnant, but because they were likely to be members of a demographic group (young women) that is more vulnerable to violence in general. Pregnancy also lowered the hospital admission threshold for most traumatic injuries, including assault. Among the cases that were perpetrator coded, 88 percent and 83.7 percent were spouse-related or partner-related among pregnancy-associated and all assaults, respectively. It may be helpful for practitioners to view pregnant women as a "sensitive" population rather than an "at-risk" population. As a "sensitive" population, whose extra care means substantially increased health-care costs, pregnant women constitute a group that should be targeted for prevention efforts in conjunction with broader efforts to reduce the differential of the rate of assault during pregnancy by socioeconomic status and race. 4 exhibits and 34 references

Date Published: January 1, 2004