ORIGINAL RESEARCH – QUANTITATIVE| Volume 28, ISSUE 3, P215-220, September 2015

An exploration of Australian midwives’ knowledge of intimate partner violence against women during pregnancy

  • Kathleen M. Baird
    Corresponding author at: School of Nursing and Midwifery, Griffith University, Logan Campus, University Drive, Meadowbrook, Queensland 4131, Australia. Tel.: +61 7 3382 1198; fax: +61 7 3382 1277.
    Maternity and Family Unit, Centre for Health Practice Innovation (HPI), Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University, Queensland 4131, Australia

    School of Nursing and Midwifery, Griffith University, University Drive, Meadowbrook, Queensland 4131, Australia
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  • Amornrat S. Saito
    School of Nursing and Midwifery, Griffith University, University Drive, Meadowbrook, Queensland 4131, Australia
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  • Jennifer Eustace
    School of Nursing and Midwifery, Griffith University, University Drive, Meadowbrook, Queensland 4131, Australia
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  • Debra K. Creedy
    Maternity and Family Unit, Centre for Health Practice Innovation (HPI), Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University, Queensland 4131, Australia

    School of Nursing and Midwifery, Griffith University, University Drive, Meadowbrook, Queensland 4131, Australia
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Published:February 12, 2015DOI:



      Intimate partner violence is recognised as a global public health issue. Living with intimate partner violence results in poorer health status with reduced quality of life and higher utilisation of health services. Increased awareness, education and training, and an understanding of multi-agency collaboration are vital in order for health practitioners to respond to women experiencing partner violence and abuse. Midwives are well placed to identify, provide immediate support, and refer women onto appropriate support agencies but may lack appropriate education, training or support.


      To investigate midwives’ knowledge of intimate partner violence against women during pregnancy.


      An online survey link was distributed through the Australian College of Midwives. The survey included personal, professional and practice details, and 25 questions that tested knowledge about intimate partner violence.


      152 midwives completed the online questionnaire. Knowledge scores ranged from 27 to 48 (out of a possible 50), with the mean total score of 42.8 (SD = 3.3). Although 60% of participants scored 48, two-thirds did not know about the risks and signs of intimate partner violence. One-third of the midwives did not know about age risks associated with intimate partner violence. Around 25% incorrectly believed that perpetrators are violent because of alcohol or drug use. Nearly 90% (88%) of participants had some education or training about intimate partner violence. Those with some training achieved higher knowledge scores than those with no formal training (Mann–Whitney U = 1272, p = 0.003).


      Participating midwives generally reported a high level of knowledge about intimate partner violence but held misconceptions about risks and characteristics of perpetrators of violence. These knowledge gaps may adversely affect their ability to identify women at risk of violence. Education about intimate partner violence was associated with improved knowledge. Future training and education on intimate partner violence should target identified knowledge gaps.


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