Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2009

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Smith, Elaine M

First Committee Member

Hartley, Carolyn

Second Committee Member

Peek-Asa, Corinne

Third Committee Member

Romitti, Paul

Fourth Committee Member

Wallis, Anne

Fifth Committee Member

Zamba, Gideon


Intimate partner violence (IPV) against women is a major public health issue worldwide. The purpose of this dissertation is to characterize violence perpetrated by an intimate partner against a "high-risk" group of pregnant women who sought elective abortion services at a family planning clinic. Analyses were based on the Iowa Women's Health Experience Survey (IWHES), a cross-sectional study of 519 abortion patients who completed an anonymous, self-administered questionnaire over a period of seven months. IWHES eligibility criteria were 'Seeking pregnancy termination'; 'Age ≥ 18 years'; 'Iowa resident' and 'Fluent in English or Spanish'. The survey instrument covered physical, sexual and psychological types of violence, health correlates of violence as well as demographic, socioeconomic and lifestyle characteristics of participating women and their current intimate partners. Aim I examined the prevalence of physical, sexual and/or psychological abuse by employment characteristics of elective abortion patients and their current intimate partners. Aim II examined associations of substance use, depression and social support with physical, sexual and/or psychological abuse perpetrated by current intimate partners against women seeking pregnancy termination. To achieve the analytic goals of Aims I and II, the study sample was restricted to women who had a current partner and valid IPV data. The overall prevalence of physical, sexual and/or psychological abuse perpetrated by a current partner was 12.3%, with some overlap between the different IPV sub-types. In general, the prevalence of IPV did not differ significantly by employment status or by broadly defined occupational groups of women and their partners. However, a trend was noted whereby a woman's employment and a partner's unemployment were associated with greater likelihood of IPV. Specifically, the prevalence of IPV was highest among couples where the woman was employed and the partner was unemployed. Consistently positive associations were noted between the partner's (but not the woman's) substance use indicators (alcohol intake, binge drinking, recreational drug use) and IPV. Higher levels of depressive symptoms and less perceived availability of social support were noted among women who had experienced IPV versus those who had not experienced IPV. The association between depressive symptoms and IPV was stronger for women who reported having children in their homes compared to those did not report having children in their homes. Implications for policy and future research are discussed.


depression, elective abortion, employment, intimate partner violence, social support, substance use


xiii, 239 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 187-222).


Copyright 2009 Hind Ahmad Baydoun