Emotional, physical, and sexual abuse in patients visiting gynaecology clinics: a Nordic cross-sectional study
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CitationLancet 2003, 361(9375):2107-13
AbstractBACKGROUND: Abuse against women causes much suffering for individuals and is a major concern for society. We aimed to estimate the prevalence of three types of abuse in patients visiting gynaecology clinics in five Nordic countries, and to assess the frequency with which gynaecologists identify abuse victims. METHODS: We did a cross-sectional, multicentre study of women attending five departments of gynaecology in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. We recruited 4729 patients; 3641 (77%) responded and were included in the study. Participants completed a postal questionnaire (norvold abuse questionnaire) confidentially. Primary outcome measures were prevalences of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, and whether abused patients had told their gynaecologist about these experiences. We assessed differences between countries with Pearson's chi(2) test. FINDINGS: The ranges across the five countries of lifetime prevalence were 38-66% for physical abuse, 19-37% for emotional abuse, and 17-33% for sexual abuse. Not all abused women reported current ill-effects from the abusive experience. Most women (92-98%) had not talked to their gynaecologist about their experiences of abuse at their latest clinic visit. INTERPRETATION: Despite prevalences of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse being high in patients visiting gynaecology clinics in the Nordic countries, most victims of abuse are not identified by their gynaecologists. This lack of discussion might increase the risk of abused patients not being treated according to their needs. Gynaecologists should always consider asking their patients about abuse.
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