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Department of Psychiatry

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Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence | International Public Health | Maternal and Child Health | Women's Health


BACKGROUND: The aim was to compare, for the first time in a large systematic study, women born in conflict-affected countries who immigrated to Australia with women born in Australia for attitudes towards gender roles and men's use of IPV and the actual prevalence of IPV. The study also examined if any associations remained across the two timepoints of pregnancy and postpartum.

METHODS: Women were interviewed during their first visit to one of three Australian public hospital antenatal clinics and re-interviewed at home six months after giving birth. A total of 1111 women completed both interviews, 583 were born in conflict-affected countries and 528 born in Australia. Associations between attitudes towards gender roles and men's use of IPV, socio-demographic characteristics and reported actual experiences of IPV were examined using bivariate and multiple logistic regression analyses.

RESULTS: Attitudes toward inequitable gender roles including those that condone men's use of IPV, and prevalence of IPV, were significantly higher (p < 0.001) among women born in conflict-affected countries compared to Australia-born women. Women born in conflict-affected countries with the strongest held attitudes towards gender roles and men's use of IPV had an adjusted odds ratio (aOR) of 3.18 for IPV at baseline (95% CI 1.85-5.47) and an aOR of 1.83 for IPV at follow-up (95% CI 1.11-3.01). Women born in Australia with the strongest held attitudes towards gender roles and IPV had an aOR of 7.12 for IPV at baseline (95% CI 2.12-23.92) and an aOR of 10.59 for IPV at follow-up (95% CI 2.21-50.75).

CONCLUSIONS: Our results underscore the need for IPV prevention strategies sensitively targeted to communities from conflict-affected countries, and for awareness among clinicians of gender role attitudes that may condone men's use of IPV, and the associated risk of IPV. The study supports the need for culturally informed national strategies to promote gender equality and to challenge practices and attitudes that condone men's violence in spousal relationships.


Intimate partner violence, Pregnancy, Psychological attitudes, Educational attainment, Australia, Culture, Medical risk factors, Refugees

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Copyright © 2021 Hicks et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

DOI of Published Version



Hicks MH, Mohsin M, Silove D, Fisher J, Moussa B, Steel Z, Nancarrow H, Nadar N, Klein L, Hasoun F, Yousif M, Khalil B, Krishna Y, Rees SJ. Attitudes towards gender roles and prevalence of intimate partner violence perpetrated against pregnant and postnatal women: Differences between women immigrants from conflict-affected countries and women born in Australia. PLoS One. 2021 Jul 30;16(7):e0255105. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0255105. PMID: 34329321; PMCID: PMC8323950. Link to article on publisher's site

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PloS one

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.