International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

News article 25 Nov 2017

Violence against women is an international public health concern and a violation of women’s rights. Domestic violence occurs across all countries, cultures, religions, socioeconomic status, and ages, with an estimated one in three women worldwide suffering domestic violence during their lifetime.

Domestic violence can particularly impact pregnant women: it often first occurs, and increases in frequency and severity for women during and after pregnancy. This can lead to poor health outcomes for both the mother and her unborn baby including maternal injury or death and stillbirth. Domestic violence can also have life-long negative implications for a woman’s physical and psychological health.

The Centre for Maternal and Newborn Health (CMNH) has conducted a number of research projects aiming to improve the quality of care for women who report domestic violence during and after pregnancy in low and middle income countries.

CMNH also recently investigated the knowledge and perceptions of domestic violence among doctors who provide routine antenatal and postnatal care at healthcare facilities in Pakistan. This study was led by Dr Mary McCauley, Senior Clinical Research Associate at CMNH. Mary and her team found that doctors and policy advisors are aware of the problems of domestic violence and are open to screening for it during and after pregnancy. However, a lack of resources, consultation time and support can prevent women receiving quality care. Their study suggests that having a speciality trained family liaison officer or health care provider and establishing clear referral pathways could improve the quality of care for vulnerable women.

 Dr Mary McCauley, Senior Clinical Research Associate at CMNH:
“I am very proud of Jennifer Head who was a Master’s student at LSTM and was instrumental in the development and the data collection for this very important study that provides tangible recommendations regarding how healthcare providers can increase the quality of care that women suffering from domestic violence receive, in Pakistan.”

The full study can be accessed here:

McCauley M, Head J, Lambert J, Zafar S, van den Broek N (2017)'“Keeping family matters behind closed doors”: healthcare providers’ perceptions and experiences of identifying and managing domestic violence during and after pregnancy', BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 318. doi: 10.1186/s12884-017-1520-4