Screening for partner violence in the early postpartum period: are we missing families most at risk of experiencing violence?

  • Tamara L. TaillieuEmail author
  • Douglas A. Brownridge
  • Marni Brownell
Quantitative Research



In Manitoba, government policy is for public health nurses to screen families with newborns within 1-week post-discharge for risk factors associated with poor child developmental health. The purpose of this study was to compare the characteristics of families who are screened for intimate partner violence (IPV) with families without a documented response to an IPV screen item. This information can be used to help identify and target families in need of support whose needs are not being met within the current system.


Manitoban women giving birth to a live singleton in the province from January 1, 2003 to December 31, 2006 were included in the analyses (N = 52,710). Data were part of a larger research study following these families for several years to examine longer-term developmental outcomes. Administrative databases from the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy provided data for the study. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression were used to examine relationships between IPV screen status and socio-demographic covariates and birth outcomes.


In the study population, 66.7% of the sample were screened for IPV. Women less than 20 years of age, not in married or common-law unions, and living in lower income areas were less likely to have a documented response to the IPV screen item. A low number of prenatal care visits, prenatal mental health problems, and prenatal substance use, as well as premature and low birthweight delivery, were associated with a decreased likelihood of having a documented response to the IPV screen item.


Incorporating violence screening into routine prenatal and postnatal care, rather than only screening women after birth, may help to better identify families with unmet needs and ensure more timely referrals to positive strengths-based supports and services.


Intimate partner violence Screening for violence Pregnancy Prenatal morbidities Birth outcomes 



Au Manitoba, les politiques gouvernementales exigent aux infirmières en santé publique d’effectuer un dépistage auprès des familles avec des nouveau-nés dans la semaine qui suit le congé de l’hôpital. Ceci est un dépistage pour des facteurs de risques associés aux mauvais résultats en matière de santé lors du développement pendant l’enfance. Cette étude visait à comparer les caractéristiques familiales des familles dépistées pour la violence entre partenaires intimes (VPI) aux familles sans réponse documentée à la question de VPI lors du dépistage. Ces informations peuvent être utilisées pour identifier et cibler les familles ayant besoin de soutien et dont les besoins ne sont pas satisfaits dans le système actuel.


La population étudiée était les femmes manitobaines ayant donné naissance à un nouveau-né vivant lors d’un accouchement simple dans la province du 1er janvier 2003 au 31 décembre 2006 (N=52 710). Les données étaient recueillies dans le contexte d’une étude plus vaste pendant plusieurs années auprès de ces familles pour étudier les résultats de développement à plus long terme. Les données étaient tirées des bases de données administratives du Centre des politiques de santé du Manitoba (Manitoba Centre for Health Policy). Les analyses descriptives et la régression logistique ont été adoptées pour analyser les liens entre le dépistage VPI et les variables sociodémographiques et les issues de grossesses.


Dans cette population, 66,7 % de l’échantillon a subi un dépistage de VPI. Les femmes de moins de 20 ans, non mariées ou en union de fait, et habitant dans un quartier à faible revenue avaient une probabilité réduite d’avoir une réponse documentée à la question de VPI lors du dépistage. Un faible nombre de visites prénatales, des problèmes de santé prénatales, la consommation de substance prénatale, une naissance prématurée et un faible poids à la naissance étaient liés à une probabilité réduite d’avoir une réponse documentée à la question de VPI lors du dépistage.


Intégrer le dépistage de violence lors des soins de bases prénatales et après la naissance, plutôt que seulement dépister les femmes après la naissance, pourrait aider à mieux identifier les familles dont les besoins ne sont pas satisfaits et assurer des recommandations plus rapides aux services et soutien axés sur les forces.


Violence entre partenaires intimes Dépistage de violence Grossesse Morbidités prénatales Issues de la naissance 



The authors acknowledge the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy for the use of data contained in the Manitoba Population Research Data Repository under project no. H2015:355[HS18922] (HIPC no. 2015/2016-31). Data used in this study are from the Manitoba Population Research Data Repository housed at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, University of Manitoba, and were derived from data provided by Manitoba Health and Healthy Child Manitoba. The results and conclusions are those of the authors and no official endorsement by the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, Manitoba Health, or other data providers is intended or should be inferred.

The authors would also like to acknowledge Dr. Michelle Porter for her valuable comments and suggestions regarding the development and design of this research project, as well as for providing valuable feedback on the manuscript draft.

Funding information

This research was supported by a University of Manitoba Graduate Fellowship, Manitoba Graduate Scholarship (Doctoral), Graduate Student Thesis Research Award in the Area of Child Development, and the Evelyn Shapiro Award for Health Services Research awarded to T. Taillieu.

Compliance with ethical standards

This study was approved by the Manitoba Health Information Privacy Committee (HIPC No. 2015/2016-31) and the University of Manitoba Health Research Ethics Board (Ethics File No. H2015:355 (HS18922)).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Community Health SciencesUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  2. 2.Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, Department of Community Health SciencesUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

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