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Journal Article


Hatcher AM, Woollett N, Pallitto CC, Mokoatle K, Stöckl H, Garcia-Moreno C. J. Interpers. Violence 2019; 34(7): 1331-1356.


World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.


(Copyright © 2019, SAGE Publishing)






Intimate partner violence (IPV) during pregnancy is associated with maternal and infant health. However, in South Africa, where 20% to 35% of pregnant women report experiencing IPV, antenatal care rarely addresses violence. Little research has explored how clinic staff, community members, or pregnant women themselves view IPV. We conducted formative, qualitative research with 48 participants in urban Johannesburg. Focus group discussions with pregnant women (n = 13) alongside qualitative interviews with health providers (n = 10), managers and researchers (n = 10), non-governmental organizations (n = 6), community leaders (n = 4), and pregnant abused women (n = 5) explored the context of IPV and health care response. Data were analyzed using a team approach to thematic coding in NVivo 10. We found that pregnant women in the urban Johannesburg setting experience multiple forms of IPV, but tend not to disclose violence to antenatal care providers. Providers are alert to physical injuries or severe outcomes from IPV, but miss subtler cues, such as emotional distress or signs of poor mental health. Providers are uncertain how to respond to IPV, and noted few existing tools, training, or referral systems. Nevertheless, providers were supportive of addressing IPV, as they noted this as a common condition in this setting. Providers and managers considered the safety and well-being of mother and infant to be a strong rationale for the identification of IPV. Pregnant women were receptive to being asked about violence in a kind and confidential way. Understaffing, insufficient training, and poorly developed referral systems were noted as important health system problems to address in future interventions. South African patients and providers are receptive to the identification of and response to IPV in antenatal care, but require tools and training to be able to safely address violence in the health care setting. Future interventions should consider the urban South African antenatal clinic a supportive, if under-resourced, entry point for improving the health of pregnant women experiencing violence.

© The Author(s) 2016.

Language: en


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